Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

We had the first snowfall of the season yesterday. Last winter I did not dare venture out but this winter - look out! I've been embracing the cold weather but was I ready for a little snow? Oh yeah baby. My daughter is home from college for winter vacation and we decided to go to the place where we trained for the '09 Boston Marathon and where the path is cleared and sanded - Jamaica Pond. If you go back through my blog you'll see many posts about our training runs there. Fond memories for sure - like when Tom 'lost' me thinking I had gone into the woods to go to the bathroom. How do you lose someone at a Pond which is in a circle? It wasn't easy trust me.

So I layered and walked through the snow outside my house. It is an indescribable feeling to feel alive in winter. Sure I went out during winter training for the marathon but did I feel alive? No it was an incredible challenge and something to be endured. Today I felt alive and invigorated. Of course just having nailed a PR on Sunday contributed to this feeling,

The path around Jamaica Pond was only partially cleared but it was sanded so I knew it was safe for us to do a power walk. I was not interested in time at all but just being outside feeling the winter frost embrace my face and seeing the beautiful landscape of winter was magical! As it turned out, we did 3.2 miles in 50 minutes which, as Daily Mile tells me is a 15:40 minute pace. Pretty incredible!

I am so excited about Christmas and New Year's this year. We have many exciting plans. Christmas Day, my husband and daughter surprised me with tickets to Jersey Boys at the Colonial Theater. On the 26th we are doing our Satellite 6.1 mile Run for @operationjack and that evening we are joining two dear friends for dinner and karaoke. I am so blessed and hope that you are savoring every moment of this holiday season.

Even after Christmas, it's great to choose gifts that give so be sure to visit my Holiday Gift ideas at my website.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
Blessings from my heart to yours with love,

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Magic at the Jingle Bell 5K

I know you are all wondering - did she do it? Did the trash talk come to pass or did she walk the walk of shame (said with a wink and a smile). Well those of you on Twitter and Facebook already know what happened. I PR'ed it with a vengeance - official time 42:21 which is one minute and 23 seconds off of the Super Hero 5K. There was Christmas Magic in the air.

The #NERTS were planning a meet up with Doug, Jessie, Ashley and Chris. We had a plan to meet in front of the Red Bones Pub. Tom and I had planned to park at a school building but all of a sudden we found ourselves at the race number pick up venue and there was a parking space so we knew that was where we were supposed to park. On the way to the starting line we 'just happened' to meet Jessie and then Doug! We couldn't find Ashley and Chris before the race because they were directing us all to the start. But what to my wondering eyes should appear but my team mates from the 2009 Spaulding Race for Rehab Team. Suzanne Showstack, Sarah Oulette and Suzanne's sister, Robin who I met at Suzanne's fund raiser. With almost 5,000 runners what were the chances that we would bump into them. Christmas magic was definitely in the air.

Tom and I took our place among the runners and I told him to kick my behind to the finish. Christmas music blared through Davis Square and at 11:04 we were off. I was so focused despite the cold air and cloud cover and I knew in my heart I was going to set a PR. We got to mile 1 and I looked at my watch - 13:21. I asked Tom what he had for time and he said, "Oh this has to be wrong; I have like a 13 minute mile". I said "no it's right." The 2nd mile had rolling hills and I only had to take one walking break after my heart rate climbed over 171. It was a fast course.

Mile 2 to the finish seemed like an eternity to me although I knew I was going to PR because our time at mile 2 was 27:21 - a 14 minute pace but something really strange happened as the officials told us we only had about a half mile to go. Unlike the Super Hero 5K when I heard the music at the finish and knew that I was going to PR, I was watching my time and for some strange reason the finish line looked like an eternity away. I saw my watch hit 42:00 and I heard this voice say, "don't worry if you don't do it, it's okay." The next thing I knew I was crossing the finish line and saw my watch 42:50. Doug was there to snap me at the finish and he said he was hoping I would have thrown my arms up in jubilant celebration. What he didn't know at the time was that I didn't think I was gonna make it despite the reality of time telling me I had plenty of time to spare. What a thrill to have Doug there waiting for me at the finish to take me picture and what Christmas magic to find Ashley, Chris and Jessie after the run just past the finish line. Everyone had a phenomenal day and there were congratulations all around. I am so grateful for the love and support that everyone shares. It's the best kind of family!

So how did I take 1:23 off of a race I ran not even two months ago. What is happening to allow this body to transform from finishing last to being able to run at a 13:38 minute pace? Well you know first of all I have to thank my life and running partner Tom. He talked me through the entire race coaching, coaxing, telling me what an inspiration I am. He really kicked my behind when he wouldn't let me stop at the water stop. He told me we had our own and it was a lot better for me than what they had a the water stop. He didn't want me to slow down my pace and I am so glad he did that for me. He kept me in the zone telling me to listen to the music and breathe with the music. He told me after the run these are the tricks he uses when he is on a long run especially in the cold weather which wants to take one's breath away. I am so grateful to him for sharing in my healing journey.My average heart rate was 167 with a peak of 185 - not bad for this girl who is going to be 57 in five days!

And of course I have to express my love and gratitude to my friends in the running community aka the #NERTS - to @adamm9, @reallynotarunnr (and you are you know), @anivs18, @kissing_frogs and @luau and all the rest of the gang.

Thank you Spirit for the gift of poetry in my soul that helped me to imagine myself free in my body despite being in a leg brace and using a wheelchair at times for mobility.

Christmas magic is in the air and thank you to all of the elves who fuel my journey!

Want to create some Christmas Magic of your own -- I have last minute holiday gift ideas that give while you give!

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
With the magic of Christmas in my heart,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Live Like You Were Dyin'-Trash Talk

I sign off on my blog God bless, be well and Live like you were dyin'. I decided it's time to reflect on that tag line. What does it mean to Live Like you were dyin'. Did you see the movie The Bucket List - that's live like you were dyin. In truth we have all been given a terminal diagnosis. What we do between birth and death is what matters. When I was 'given' the diagnosis of post polio syndrome in December 2006 I had a choice as we all do when we are given a life altering diagnosis. I chose to find a way to heal my life. Last October I had a recurrence of symptoms. :What did I do with it? What did I do with it?" - an opportunity for more learning and transformation.

I am blessed beyond words to be surrounded by so much love and support on this journey. For the first time in my life I feel whole. I feel joy and I feel a sense of reckless abandon which brings me to the subtitle of today's blog post - Trash Talk.

During our Boston Marathon training we would gather at Marathon Sports on Saturday mornings. I remember Domenick D'Amico and the other runners talking about trash talk and talking trash talk. For my non runner followers trash talk is when you say you're gonna best someone at a certain race and you're gonna do a certain time. That was one conversation I thought I would never be a part of. At Lexs Run I am not sure who said it first but running a PR came up. And then at the Super Hero 5K - another PR. This Sunday we are running the Jingle Bell 5K Run in Somerville. Why am I running a race in the middle of December and why I am trash talkin' about setting another PR? Because I am living like I am dyin'. And so what if I don't achieve a PR on that day; it's the joy of the journey and not the destination that counts.

I spent so many years of my life living in fear and being shackled to untruths perpetrated by other people. "And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin'..." But now I am alive and awake. I turn 57 on Christmas Day. My birthday celebrations consist of running the Jingle Bell 5K, {and setting a PR},running a 10K for autism with my daughter and husband at Doug Welch's home on the 26th, going out for dinner and singing Karaoke that night with Tom, our daughter,and two dear friends, and having a brunch with friends on the 27th.

So what's on my bucket list for 2011?
Setting a PR at the Hyannis 10K and the Tufts 10K
Speaking at Channel 7's Health and Fitness Expo
Going to the Exceptional Women Luncheon as an official 'exceptional woman' and who knows maybe even being selected for the Courage Award
Speaking at Rotary's District Assembly
Training for the Bermuda Half Marathon to be run in 1/12
Distributing my documentary "Keeping the Pace:The Mary McManus Story" to raise money for the End Polio Now Campaign
Working with Luna to create a run to End Polio Now
Raising over $10,000 for Childrens Hospital
Watching my husband cross the finish line of the 115th Boston Marathon
Being a guest on Good Morning America

Fairy tales can come true - it can happen to you - if you're young at heart! At almost 57 I am young at heart, dreaming big and aiming high because I'm livin' like I'm dyin!

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Run - Celebrate - Sing

I hope you'll take a few minutes to watch this You Tube of Kristen Chenoweth singing "Sing". The words are changed for the joy of the season. I found this song on iTunes and fell in love with her version of the song. As we count the days down to Christmas and the end of the year, I am overflowing with feelings of love, joy and gratitude. I want to "Sing" my song to you.

Yesterday was a perfect 10 day in my life. Our dear friend and trainer who got us through grueling marathon training, Domenick D'Amico returned to Boston for a visit. Tom and I decided that we would do the run out of the Brookline Marathon Sports store for auld lang syne sake. The runners in the running group are a lot faster than I am but Tom and I always do our pace together. It doesn't matter. It's the camaraderie of the group. Confession time - every Saturday before we would run out of the store I would have a nervous stomach. After all, I didn't belong among these runners and all those feelings from days gone by would resurface. Well, a Christmas Miracle happened - those feelings were gone and all I could focus on was the joy of a reunion with Domenick and getting out for a run and feeling good. It's amazing when you feel good about yourself, what you attract into your life.

A new member to the group asked if she could run with us. Sure I said but I run at a slow pace. Tom shared my story with her and she said what an inspiration I am and she would love to run at our pace. I met another woman with whom we have a mutual connection. There was so much wonderful energy at the store before the run and I know it was in large part thanks to the run of Domenick who is an icon of the running group.

What a difference in the temperature from my run on Thursday. The day felt incredibly warm compared to the frigid temps on Thursday and the sun was shining. It was a perfect day for a winter run. Our running partner seemed comfortable to run at my pace. We talked and got to know one another and the time flew by. During our last time around the Reservoir we saw our dear friend Ashley Niven. I said that I didn't want to slow down her pace and she said she had just started - don't worry! We introduced her to our running partner and talked about the day, running, health, Chicago Marathon. It was time for us to head back down Beacon Street so Ashley finished her run and we returned to the store. I ran a 14 minute mile for 5.2 miles with an average heart rate of 152 and a peak of 195. Great run!

We went to Starbucks after the run and the group gathered regaling stories about marathons, tri's, ultra's and drank coffee (mine of course decaf) and treated ourselves to croissants acknowledging 'that's why we run'. Later that evening, Domenick had suggested that people gather at Boston Beer Works. More reunions with our dear friends Alison and Jen and meeting Domenick's friends. I decided to take this opportunity to begin the celebration of my birthday which is on Christmas. It was also a celebration of life and healing and feeling so incredibly grateful for the freedom I feel in my body and spirit. I had a glass of white wine and we ordered a Yule Log which everyone shared.

It is a joy to ring out the old and ring in the new and to feel my heart sing as a celebration of the joys and love of life! 2010 has brought another round of amazing transformation. I am blessed to be able to share the journey with all of you. There is only three weeks until the end of the year so I'd better start my gratitudes now so I can get them all in between now and then - smile please.

To Linda Mitchell - You were there four years ago when this amazing journey began. Thank you for all of the incredible resources you gave me but most importantly thank you for the gift of your love and the ability to see beyond appearances of the fuzzy caterpillar.

To Domenick D'Amico - Thank you for being a wonderful friend and an amazing trainer. You've been on my running journey with me and I will always remember and cherish the words you spoke at the first meeting of our Spaulding Rehab team meeting:"My job is to get you to the starting line healthy and to the finish line with a smile." You my dear are a man of your word. Thanks for your continued love and support of Team McManus.

To my incredible husband - my life and running partner who told me yesterday that he was amazed that he had to run to keep up with me. He usually uses the runs he does with me to power walk and recover from his long runs and the 9 minute mile pace he runs on his own. Thanks for reflecting the growth and the changes I have made and for being a partner on this incredible healing journey.

To Kate Loving Shenk and Joan Adams my beautiful soul sisters in cyberspace. Thank you for the spiritual wisdom and insight you have helped me to find during this past year of gathering on the Prayer Blog and Moon, Moo and You.

To Jordan Rich - thank you for your friendship, your love and support. Thank you for the privilege and honor of being a guest on your show and for the opportunity to be your associate producer. Thank you for writing the foreword to my book, "Set Sail for a New World" and for the opportunity to launch it on your show. Thank you for embracing my gifts and sharing your heart with me.

Before I use up all of the megabytes for my blog I will stop there for today but my year end review and gratitudes will be continued....

Be sure to check out Holiday Gift Ideas that give while you give.

God bless, be well and life like you were dyin'
With love from my heart to yours - Happy Holidays

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Not Where You Start It's Where you Finish

It's not where you start, it's where you finish
It's not how you go, it's how you land
A hundred to one shot, you call him a clutz
Can out run the favorite, all he needs is the guts
Your final return will not diminish
And you can be the cream of the crop
It's not where you start, it's where you finish
And you're gonna finish on top

If you start at the top, you're certain to drop
You've got to watch your timing, better begin by climbing
Up, up, up the ladder
If you're going to last, you can't make it fast, man
Nobody starts a winner, give me a slow beginner
Easy does it my friend, conserve your fine endurance
Easy does it my friend, for that's your life insurance
While you are young, take it rung after rung after rung after rung after rung after rung after rung after rung

It's not where you start, it's where you finish,
It's not how you go, it's how you land
A hundred to one shot, you call him a clutz
Can out run the favorite, all he needs is the guts
Your final return will not diminish
And you can be the cream of the crop
It's not where you start, it's where you finish
And you're gonna finish on top!

As I was into a downhill during my 3.9 run today in 14 degree weather this song came to mind. When I searched on You Tube for the song, I was delighted to find one by Barbara Cook. My first Broadway show I ever saw was "She Loves Me" starring Barbara Cook. One of my friends on Facebook talked about calling the Nostalgia Police when we were talking about The Enchanted Village here in Boston. I guess the holidays bring out a sense of nostalgia - especially after having lunch with my brother yesterday. How wonderful to resurrect happy memories and to bring forward the joy of music which was a part of our family culture but boy did I digress or what?

I was mentally ready to embrace the cold today but I was not prepared for what my body would feel like at the beginning of the run. Despite having wonderful cold weather gear, my legs felt like two popsicles. I told myself there is no such thing as a garbage run - just be so incredibly grateful you are out here and able to do this. I knew that I was going to do the route my husband and I did on Sunday minus the little detour which brought us to 4.5 miles. I had no expectation of time. This was a run to acclimate myself to the coldest running day yet for me.

As I chugged up the hill in front of Boston College, the initials DNF came to mind (did not finish) but I heard my dear friend Doug Welch's voice ring in my ears "Strong Work Mary" and I knew I couldn't quit. My mind was wondering how I could cut the run short but I said to myself just clear all of that out of there. I had done 13.2 miles on the bicycle on Tuesday and lower body strength training yesterday and rather than look at why I couldn't do this, or hearing the voices of the docs telling me why I shouldn't run, I focused on feeling a surge of strength from deep within me. I knew this was one of those just finish training runs.

When I got to the top of the hill I felt an incredible sense of victory. As I turned the corner there was a little uphill but I knew the downhill on Commonwealth Avenue was right around the bend. I found a wonderful steady pace and the wind had stopped and the black head warmer was absorbing the sun. I couldn't feel my butt anymore but amazingly enough my feet were warm. My core was very warm and I could feel myself sweating. I had forgotten the delightful paradox of running in winter. It's cold as all get out but the body is sweating.

Part of me wanted to look at my watch and make sure I was doing a sub 15 minute pace. Why? I have no idea but suddenly I felt as though I wanted to add an extra dimension to the run. I went from feeling as though I couldn't do this to wanting to beat the clock. I decided to let go of either extreme and just enjoy the day. I focused on the warmth of the sun, the beauty of the reservoir and felt gratitude surge through every cell in my body. There was another hill to face heading toward home. I remembered that I am going to do a 10K the day after Christmas which is going to have hills. As Nike says, "Just Do It!" and so I did. I was never so happy to see my beautiful street and as I charged toward my house I thought once again, It's not where you start it's where you finish. And I did finish. My husband calculated the distance for me and it was 3.9 miles which I ran in 56:51 - a sub 15 minute mile pace (14:48 to be exact) despite feeling so frozen and sluggish as I ran. My average heart rate was 149 with a peak of 186. Bring on the Jingle Bell Run and the @OperationJack 10K.

Dear God - now that we know I can run in the extreme cold, could we please bring on some more moderate temperatures? Thank you very much.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
With love from my heart to yours,

I Am NOT My Diagnosis - But I AM a Runner

Four years ago I sat in my office at the Department of Veterans Affairs so relieved that I finally had a diagnosis for what plagued me for at least ten years and so frightened about my future. My then travel agent Linda Mitchell who has become an incredibly dear friend through the years and who I blogged about in Unfinished Business was helping me get through my final days at work before I left for a Bermuda vacation. She would email me photos of Bermuda and they brought me respite from the incredible physical and emotional pain I was experiencing.

When we met in Bermuda in 2007, one of the things she said to me was, "Don't claim your diagnosis by using the word 'my' for 'my post polio doctor' or 'my diagnosis'." I was able to release the diagnosis as I trained for and ran the Boston Marathon but my lesson had not yet been learned and integrated. Last year I 'owned' the diagnosis again. Life is truly a journey not a destination. I needed to do more soul work. I talked a lot about living with post polio syndrome in my blog posts last year but at the same time was reworking and healing on a deeper level so that I was able to emerge from last winter healthier and stronger for having taken the time to regroup.

This morning during my morning meditation and for those of you who watched the Merrimack Valley Striders video the words "I am not my diagnosis" continue to echo through my being. Yesterday I was blessed to have lunch with my brother - an early birthday celebration. He gave me a gift certificate to Marathon Sports. I reflected on the miracle of us being together and of us being as healthy and whole as we are having come from a scene right out of Mad Men. He reinvented himself in his personal and career life at mid life. He is a spinning instructor. I am a marathoner and a runner. Huh, who knew? Our parents and our family culture was certainly not one of health and exercise. Smoking, drinking, overeating, a sedentary, chaotic lifestyle was the norm. Yet here we were talking about what we do to stay healthy as we enter our later years. He will be 60 next year.

My brother did ask me about post polio and my physical diagnoses. He gently asked me if the tremors were part of post polio. He doesn't read my blog so it's safe to say that yes, the tremors are due in part to post polio but they are also due in large part to the beatings I experienced. As I talked about post polio and cervical spine disease I felt a detachment from the words. They describe what happened in my body but now I have slid across the rainbow and landed in a pot of gold of healing.

Every healing angel I have been sent has helped me to build on the work I have done before. I feel a comfort in my own body; I have shed feelings of shame and humiliation and the need to make apologies for myself. When I chose to do my recumbent bike instead of run out in the cold, I could focus on wow - I did 13.2 miles on my recumbent bike instead of - I should have gone on a run. Last night I used the gift certificate to Marathon Sports to get some heavy duty cold weather running gear. It was such fun to go on a shopping spree for me! I have more energy to enjoy life.

My heart aches for polio survivors who remain embittered and angry. I see posts on Facebook with the End Polio Now campaign from polio survivors who have not found the blessing wrapped inside the gift of polio and post polio syndrome. I had to leave the Polio Today forum because there was such rancor, discontent and a sense of victimization at what polio had done to destroy their lives and quality of life. I was so blessed when I worked at the VA to see people who, despite incredible challenges were able to find beauty and love and light in life. I wake up every morning to a painting one of the veterans gave me. He had lost use of his body from the neck down but taught himself how to paint holding a paintbrush in his mouth. He was also legally blind yet created beautiful paintings from the memories in his mind's eye.

No matter what challenges life may bring, it becomes our challenge to find the grace, the beauty, the strength, the blessings wrapped inside the challenge; to learn our soul lessons and to be grateful for what we learn and then to take that challenge and use it for the highest good to make the world a better place for us having been here.

It's time for me to test out the cold weather gear and go on a run because well, I am not my diagnosis, but I am a runner!

To read more about my journey and to check out incredible Holiday Gift ideas, be sure to visit my website.

I love being a fund raiser and two of my champion causes right now are End Polio Now and Childrens Hospital Boston.

I donate 20% of book proceeds from my books of inspirational poetry to the End Polio Now campaign. If you would like to purchase a copy of the documentary "Keeping the Pace", for $10 send me an email at mary@newworldgreetings.com. 100% of the proceeds are donated to End Polio Now.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Inspiration Station

I was invited to speak at the Merrimack Valley Striders Club as their inspirational speaker for their December meeting. On their web page they have a section titled, "Inspiration Station". I sent them the link to the Channel 7 News Story featuring my Boston Marathon Run and they posted it before I was scheduled to speak last Wednesday.I had the pleasure of meeting guest speaker Channel 7's Steve Cooper at the meeting. He was taken with my story and during his speech he said that the winners of the marathon are the winners but we love to cover the "Mary stories" because they are the heart and soul of the Boston Marathon. My husband recorded my speech and posted it on You Tube.

Why? We all have stories and when we share them we discover we are not alone. There is a common human experience. I love sharing my story to uplift and inspire others; to help lift others out of the muck and mire of every day life to see the world through my eyes. I had to overcome so many physical, emotional and spiritual challenges that when I use my story to touch the hearts of others, all of the pain becomes transformed. Others feel the sense of hope and possibility in their lives and they in turn are transformed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Greatest Love of All-Recap of a 5 Mile Run

Before I went on a 5 mile run this morning I read a post from Gail Martin who writes Gail Martin's Marathon Tips:
" There's a difference between having expectations to achieve, and setting realistic goals. Some days won't provide the right circumstances to reach certain goals--accept it, and try again. Disappointment accompanies unmet expectations--stealing the joy from what we love to do. It's always a process, but if you want to lessen the lows, let go of your expectations." As I posted to Gail, I felt as though God wanted me to read that before I went on my run.

It was a cold and windy morning. One of the goals I set forth on Daily Mile is to continue running sub 15 minute mile runs but my body is getting acclimated to running in cold weather again and I never know what this body is going to do on any given day. My wonderful running and life partner, Tom and beautiful daughter Ruth Anne, home from college were joining me on this run even though they are doing the Tough Ten Mile Turkey Trot tomorrow. As I started out I could feel my body reeling against the cold and the wind. I heard Gail's words echo and I said, what if I do a 15 min or even a 16 minute mile on this training run? You are beating the odds Mary. Remember what Doug and Ashley said, "every step is a victory". Look at the beautiful blue sky, hear the waves of the reservoir lap against the shore. Give thanks and settle into a rhythm with your body. Let the music in your iPod carry you along.

I let go of my expectations and I used this run to do some soul work. I reminded myself that I don't have to catch up to anyone anymore ever again. I get to run my own race. This feeling of needing to catch up is a feeling that is held not only in the soul but in the body as well.I let myself experience the feelings of laying on the couch and being abandoned and rejected by my mother when I was paralyzed from polio. I celebrated my awesomeness and thought about all the reasons why I am awesome. I released the feelings of abandonment, rejection, of losing love I never had and released the fear that I would lose the love of my wonderful friends and massage therapist. I released the feelings of having my father who once was loving and attentive while I was paralyzed with polio turn on me in such a violent way.

When we were half way around the reservoir on our final lap I talked with Tom about my brother who had called me yesterday. I felt this incredible wave of compassion and love come over me for both of us - for what we had lived through - for what we had survived and with that I broke out. I wasn't pushing myself and I wasn't trying to beat any time. I just wanted to run. I told Tom and Ruth Anne they could continue power walking as they are gonna do their thing tomorrow but I needed to just run.

I embraced the reality that I really am a runner (thanks Doug) but for now I am working on distances I can manage. I'm taking it slow and easy in the miles department and I'm getting used to feeling this new way in my earthly home. I ran a 14:11 minute mile for 5 miles. My average heart rate held steady at 152 with a peak of 175. I know I am getting more fit, stronger and every day in every way I am better and better.

I am experiencing the greatest love of all - right inside of me. I am re-educating the child within who was abandoned, neglected and abused to feel love and joy; to discover the awesomeness and the beauty. I learned to depend on me and have often said that my childhood was a do it yourself job but I was never alone. God was/is always with me. I am blessed and grateful beyond words to all of you - my readers, the running community, and Lady Linda who saw the beauty I possessed inside - thank you to all who have embraced me and my journey.

As the holiday season approaches, we have so many exciting Holiday Gifts which give while you give.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,

Monday, November 22, 2010

When I Get To Heaven I'm Gonna Wear High Heels

Last Saturday I had a delightful visit with Nan Wahle (pictured above). Nan and I 'met' when I was a guest on the Jordan Rich show. We were in the middle of the trivia contest to win a copy of my book of inspirational poetry and Nan called in. JR was told that she is the mother of Scott Wahle, former reporter at WBZ and a dear friend of JR's. Actually I don't know anyone who is not a dear friend of JR. He loves the world and the world loves him. She mentioned that she is a polio survivor dealing with post polio syndrome. Of course we became fast friends and I had to meet her in person.

She lives in an assisted living. Her apartment is filled with dolls. She explained to my husband and me that she was in bed for 6 months after having had corrective surgery on her feet after being stricken with polio. She and her friends would play dolls. I could have really used a friend like Nan when I was dealing with polio but what a blessing that we are now dear friends. We reminisced about our polio experiences and then talked about post polio syndrome. She was in awe that I am able to run and that I ran the Boston Marathon. She asked me how it was possible. She recalled that Dr. Julie Silver, who wrote the book on Post Polio Syndrome told her to not exercise lest she burn out her remaining neurons. She said she was so inspired that I did not take that advice and states that perhaps if she would have done more when she was my age (almost 57) she might have more mobility. She experiences a lot of pain and limited use of her arms and legs yet there she sits with incredible grace and dignity talking of God, faith, spirituality and....reading from my poetry books.

She said that my poetry has blessed her life and that she is planning to take the books with her to the dining room and read to the other residents, many of whom have 'given up'. She read my poem "Growing Old" and I told her that when I come back for my next visit, I am going to bring a tape recorder and have her record my poems. My husband said we'll put them on the website. She was delighted! In the middle of our conversation Nan said, "When I get to heaven, I'm gonna wear high heels". I grabbed her hand and said you know it sister. We talked about always needing corrective footwear and never being able to wear high heels.

She told me that the doctors told her mother that she would never walk again nor regain use of her right arm. With a sparkle in her eye she said but my mother and I wouldn't take no for an answer. Her mother took her for aqua therapy and here she met 'an angel of a physical therapist' who was able to help her regain all of her functioning. She said she used to dance and walk and felt wonderful until post polio took its toll on her body. Despite her limitations, her soul flies free and she is truly an inspiration. We inspired each other on this fall afternoon in Hingham, Massachusetts. Two women though decades apart in age shared a moment in time. Two women who had experienced a part of history now forgotten in the United States. Two women whose bodies were wracked with pain and struggle but whose spirits could never be dampened. One woman who was able to overcome the ravages of post polio syndrome and give hope and possibility to the other woman encouraging her to ask for physical therapy and to also explore massage therapy and other healing arts. When it came time to leave I knew that I would return for another afternoon of being present with each other, enjoying the love, light and laughter and remembering that no matter what happens, the essence of our Be-ing can never be changed.

I am a member of the "Red High Heel Club" with Carolyn Kruse on Country 102.5. It's ladies night out and so much fun. Everyone wears red high heels - except me. But it's fine because like Nan I know that when I get to heaven I'm gonna wear {red} high heels!

If you would like to experience the beauty of my poetry, visit my website and order autographed copies of my books! Just in time for the holidays. And I believe in giving while you give, so I donate 20% to End Polio Now.

For a holiday gift guide that allows you to give while you give, visit my Holiday Gift Ideas.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Every Step is a Victory:Body & Soul Work

This morning after posting the results of my 6 mile run on Daily Mile, my dear friend Doug Welch aka @reallynotarunnr said, "Just remember, every step is a victory." I told him I knew and I am so incredibly grateful for the healing happening in my life. I do not take ANYTHING for granted and I am so incredibly grateful for how the running community celebrates my running a sub 15 minute mile and how my runs have gotten so strong. It's not about the actual time because as Doug said, every step is a victory. It's about feeling free in my body; feeling strong and having the confidence to run and run at a pace I did not think was possible after having run the Boston Marathon when I experienced a relapse of post polio symptoms.

I had a very strange experience Friday night into Saturday morning. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling searing pain in my left leg. I was in one of those twilight states. My knee locked and unlocked and I know I have some cartilage hangin' out in my knee. I visualize growing new cartilage and keeping my knee joints well lubricated. But this pain was different than the pain of a knee locking; this was as I said a searing pain and I felt as though my leg was on fire. I sent loving, healing energy to my leg and I observed the pain. It was in me but I did not allow it or fear to take over.

On the ride to Falmouth on Saturday, I kept sending healing energy to my left leg. I was not alarmed that I might not be able to run. I just kept observing the pain and creating a space around it. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, something magical happens when I cross the Cape Cod Canal and once I felt the warm sunshine and breathed the Cape air, I could feel the pain begin to dissipate. As I said, Tom and I had an amazing 4 mile run. When we got back to the hotel, since the weather was glorious, we decided to forego a swim in the indoor heated pool for being outside. I journaled and I had an AHA moment. I was experiencing phantom pain from polio. I was able to release it through running and by not locking into the pain. The fact that I used the word searing was the tipping point for me. In my first poem, "Running the Race" I talked about how the pain it was so searing, the diagnosis even worse...it's polio the doctor said, he was abrupt and terse.

The memory of Miss Holly, my physical therapist when I was 5, working on my left leg returned and once again the intense pain of recovering from the initial polio virus was transformed by the treatment. The Sister Kenny method which physical therapists used to help patients recover from paralytic polio involved "using hot packs to reduce muscle spasms and the pain they caused. (Although a polio patient lost motor nerves, their sensory nerves were not affected, and they were frequently in extreme pain. Imagine having a leg cramp for several weeks.) She also moved the patient's extremities as if guiding them through physical therapy. Although the patient couldn't work the muscles themselves, the motion helped."

So yes, Doug, every step is indeed a victory and I am doing the body and soul work to free myself from the shackles of polio and post polio syndrome and all that went along with it. I am so grateful to have the love and support of so many wonderful friends and I am blessed beyond words to have a life and running partner in my husband. To have found Eric at the Charles River Run 5K is to have found an earth angel whose skill and heart have helped me to do the work I need to do to be free in mind, body and spirit!

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,

p.s. For a smile - here is the summary of my Daily Mile workouts last week:

28 Total Miles
6.83 Total Time
1 Lbs Burned
7 Total Workouts
102.30 TVs Powered
1.47 Gas Saved
28.63 Donuts Burned

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happiness is...

I know that I have used this as a blog post title before but after my interview with Ricky Powell last Sunday and so many wonderful things that are happening in my life, I decided it was time to reflect and express my appreciation for happiness is...

...going to Lunafest with @anivs18 and @kissing_frogs. Jessie aka @kissing_frogs had an extra ticket to Lunafest - short films by, for and about women. It was a delight to watch the films and then go to the decadent dessert table at the Liberty Hotel in Boston, meet new people and hang out together.

...reading my friends' blog posts.

...'hearing' @reallynotarunnr say 'strong work' on my runs

...going on a mid week run with my husband. Tom had the day off today for Veterans Day. It was one of those perfect 10 fall days and he paced me for my 3.4 mile run in which I nailed another sub 15 minute mile run.

...feeling the warm sun on my back during a training run.

...being invited to the Brookline Rotary Club by the President Ken Jaffe and seeing old friends, meeting new friends and being a part of the Rotary Family.

...finalizing plans for the Music for Miracles concert and seeing how the stars align to help this make a phenomenal success.

...having my brother make a $100 donation to my husband's Miles for Miracle run and having him sign the email with love from your Big Bro!

...buying the Thanksgiving turkey in anticipation of my daughter coming home after her first time away from home. It will be almost six months since I saw her!

...reconnecting with a dear friend on Facebook, Linda Mitchell, who helped me harness the power of my imagination and unleash the healing power that was inside of me.


How do you to finish the sentence Happiness is....

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
With love and gratitude from my heart to yours,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Exceptional Women

Today was an incredibly special day for me. I can imagine how singers feel when they hear their song played on the radio for the first time. Today I heard my interview air on Exceptional Women. If you missed the 'live' show you can download the podcast. When I went in for my interview, I was a nervous wreck. My now dear friend, Tina Gao, producer of the Exceptional Women show waved and smiled at me during the beginning of the interview with Candy O'Terry. It helped me to relax a little. I was amazed by my poise and how articulate I was because inside my head there was a part of me that struggled to find my voice that day.

I have been so blessed to be interviewed by Jordan Rich several times on WBZ Boston. I have been on Channel 7 News. and numerous blog talk shows. I have been interviewed by Bernie Siegel, MD So what was it about Exceptional Women?
Being interviewed on Exceptional Women and being a part of this amazing community was a vision I had for years. I was drawn to Candy talking about the luncheon. You see growing up I was not part of a sisterhood. I did not experience the power of women. I did not have a circle of friends with whom I giggled and stayed up all night or had long phone calls to share our heart's desire. I was too busy surviving and protecting myself from the world of chaos and trauma around me.

When I went to the Exceptional Women luncheon this past May the energy of the sisterhood was palpable. I met Laurel Labdon who is the founder of Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts and the executive director of Studio on Slough Road. We have a beautiful friendship that continues to grow.
I met incredible women. Six women who received awards Estelle Parsons, Kate White, Keziah Furth, Sylvia Crawley, Dr. Kathy Magliati and Kip Tiernan, and heard stories of countless others who were featured on the Jordans Furniture couch. From the program: "It's been 17 years since our weekly radio program Exceptional Women was born. .... "Our job is to give the women we interview the opportunity to tell their story so that others might learn from it...aspire to it...be better for having heard it. ... They are humbled by their success and wiser because of their failures. Exceptional Women turn adversity into opportunity. It's as simple as that. ... "This is more than an event...it's an experience."

The luncheon certainly was an experience and hearing my interview was one of the highlights of my life. I was honest, authentic and spoke from my heart. I realized the importance of my life's mission, my passion and my purpose and realize that I will leave a wonderful legacy when I make my transition (after I turn 100 - smile). This afternoon I had another blessed event. Ricky Powell and I 'met' on Daryn Kagan's social community. Ricky was inspired by my story. He is preparing to launch a new website which will include interviews of 'heroes' and authors. He will be leading Mastermind calls and have one on one coaching sessions with members of the community to help them remove the barriers to finding and following their passion and purpose. What a blessing and an honor to be the first person interviewed for the site!

I embrace being a hero. I embrace being an Exceptional Woman. I embrace being in the spotlight. I am so grateful to the countless people who have helped me reach this point in my journey and look forward to the road ahead. May you find your passion and your purpose, live from your heart and feel the incredible sense of triumph when you rise again and again no matter the challenge.

Visit Mary McManus.com to be inspired, see the samples of original poetry I create through New World Greeting Cards, and order my books of inspirational poetry (I donate 20% of book sales through the holiday season to the End Polio Now campaign)

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin
With love from my heart to yours,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Ongoing Transformation of Team McManus

When I announced that I was going to run the Boston Marathon, my husband was labeled a diabetic and had high cholesterol. He was not getting regular exercise and as a couple, we had no idea of the journey that was to unfold before us. He did not want my daughter and me to be out training by ourselves so he decided to become the third leg of Team McManus. He confesses that he didn't think that I was really going to run the Boston Marathon. After all, I had never run before. He had some 10K's under his belt which he had run before we had children.

Our training journey is well documented in my blog - the good, the bad and the ugly but nothing was as magnificent as when all three of us crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. As I have written, every finish line is a starting line. Since running the Boston Marathon, we each had to take a break from running. My husband had some serious IT band issues and I experienced a flare of post polio and cervical spine disease.

But we would not stop! We went for physical therapy and Tom joined Commonwealth Sports Club. That hunger in his soul to run another marathon for a good cause began to rumble and he applied for and was accepted to the Miles for Miracles Team. He has been training hard. We learned many lessons from our first Boston Marathon quest. We were nowhere in marathon shape but with courage, faith, grit and determination we did indeed run our first marathon and raised $10,535 for Spaulding Rehab.

He is now doing cross training. I do upper body, core and lower body strength training 3X a week in my self made home gym using free weights and a pilates ball and a yoga mat. We have joined the L Street Running Club so that he will have the support to do his long runs. I can do my own route around Castle Island and hang out at L Street until he is finished or I may volunteer at some of the long runs.

Tom had his physical last week. He lost 25 pounds and the blood test results came in today. His cholesterol was over 300 two years ago, it is now down to 200 with the good and the bad (and the ugly) being in the range they should be in. His blood sugars are completely normal including the Hemoglobin A1C which reflects blood sugars over several months. He did it! We haven't changed our diet all that much. We had eliminated red meat several years ago. He did cut out putting sugar in his coffee and now chooses fruit trail mix for snacks. We still enjoy a hot cocoa in the evening and home made pumpkin bread and he'll have his beers. I enjoy occasional desserts. We love our vegetables and fruits and have re instituted organic turkey and chicken into our diet for protein. Tofu and processed soy meats just weren't doing it for us. We love our fish and our pasta and drink tons of water. I am on a fun(d) raising marathon and he is on the road to his 2nd Boston Marathon. I am training for Bermuda 2013 and together we will run into our later years knowing they will be our personal best with health, happiness and love.

You can donate to Tom's Boston Marathon run and help create miracles at Childrens Hospital. Stay tuned for details of the 2/5 Fund Raiser at Boston University.

To read more about my amazing journey and transformation visit Mary McManus.com Are you looking for messages of transformation, hope, healing, joy, love and gratitude? Then be sure to order autographed copies of my books of inspirational poetry.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
With love from my heart to yours,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So Begins The Journey of a Marathoner's Wife

My husband received the email from Childrens Hospital that he is a member of the Miles for Miracles Team running the 2011 Boston Marathon to raise money for Boston Childrens Hospital. First thing this morning, we set up our fund raising page and thanks to Kevin Green of Just Finish and @sneezy43 on Twitter we are off and running. Our dear friend Doug Welch @reallynotarunnr is also part of the team. I was his first donor and as I said - "Let's get this party started - one for all and all for one."

I am delighted that I am sitting this marathon out and have the blessed opportunity to be a marathoner's wife. This is a new role for me. In the 2009 Boston Marathon, we were Team McManus. I trained, I fund raised, I was a wife and mother...but enough about me! I am so ecstatic that I can support my husband on this run. He has been there for me literally every step of the way since the diagnosis of post polio syndrome. Well, in truth for the past 32 years but no time was more critical for me than after being diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease. He was thinking about how we could renovate the house and told me that I had to leave my job. When I submitted our story, "A Marriage for the Ages" to a Womans Day writer, she was in awe of what we have overcome together.

My husband had his physical today. He has lost 25 pounds in the past year. We are maintaining a healthy lifestyle - no red meat; tons of fresh fruit and veggies of every shape, size and color; we love nuts and trail mix-hummus and carrots and lots of water. We had been eating only fish but since I realized I needed more protein in my diet, we have added chicken and turkey. I am having so much fun cooking healthy meals for the two of us. No empty nest syndrome here! We joined L Street Running Club so that he is going to have a running community to support him through his marathon training. I have booked all of his appointments with Eric Derrico of BMA through the Tuesday following the marathon. It's going to be quite a different training experience this go round.

While Tom trains for the Boston Marathon - eeek I get so excited saying that -- I am training for the Hyannis 10K and keeping my sights on a half. My ultimate goal - Bermuda 2013! Today I had an incredible training run. It was a very cool start to the day so I layered. The sun was glorious lighting up the foliage against the blue sky. I had my iPod with my running playlist. Today was a 45 minute run and my goal is for an intensive cardio workout. I know that my speed is improving because I usually run twice around the reservoir and then back to the Heath School (I know for those of you not in my neighborhood these landmarks mean little) but today I went almost 2 blocks beyond the Heath School before the 45 minutes was up. I also incorporated two hills into the work out.

During this morning's meditation the words hill training and fartlek came to mind. (Yes you know you are a runner when....). My body was saying - oh no girlfriend, you are not ready for this and then I said we are gonna take it one step at a time. I reviewed how far I have come during the past year and expressed overwhelming gratitude to God for the healing I have experienced in my life. I had the email words from my team trainer, Domenick D'Amico for Boston ringing in my ears "congratulations on Tufts - now we are gonna start training you for a half". I know that running is 90% mental and 10% physical and so when I went out on my run this morning I decided to incorporate one little and one large hill into the workout. I needed to get my feet wet and prepare myself for kickin' it up a notch. No more fear...confidence...back straight...knowing that this time as I train for first a half marathon and then a full it's going to be different. I have a lot more power and strength in my body. I am working with Eric, an incredible body worker, and I am shedding the shackles of the past.

Check out Tom's Miles for Miracles page! And go ahead, make a donation. I know you want to!

And be sure to check out my website overflowing with joy, hope, gratitude, healing and inspiration through my books and original poetry. Click on the New World Greeting Cards tab and enter a whole new world of greeting cards! And be sure to visit my News and Events page to see all the exciting adventures I have in store.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
With love, from my heart to yours

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Start Strong - Finish Stronger!

2350 558/1634 F4049 1:07:48 58:53 9:29 Sherri A. Boulet 45 F 4029 Douglas MA

6242 1539/1634 F4049 1:45:03 1:36:08 15:29 Deborah Woodbury-Doiron 44 F 3809 Northbridge MA

6245 654/ 760 F5059 1:45:04 1:36:09 15:29 Mary McManus 56 F 2395 Chestnut Hill MA

"There is no better way to feel self-confidence than by instilling confidence in another." - ME

Running the Tufts 10K with the Sparkling Divas Sherri and Deborah is a day I shall always remember and cherish. I am not sure how all of this evolved as so often happens in life.I asked Deborah if she would be interested in running it with me. She had never run more than 4 miles, had never been part of a large race and had never run a race in Boston. Her initial goal was to run the 5 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day but when I asked her about Tufts she decided it would give her the motivation she needed to train for her initial goal of a 5 miler on Thanksgiving Day. When we started talking on Facebook about our plan to run the Tufts 10K others chimed in. Deborah's husband, Tim named our team The Sparkling Divas. Sherri Boulet, a runner (and by runner I mean that she can do a 9 minute mile) joined the team. We had a few others who flirted with the idea of running with us but in the end it was the three of us for the Tufts 10K. We have two honorary members, Pamela McCurry Robbins and Leslie Regard aka Marathon Girl.

You can read my blog post about our 5 mile run together. Deborah felt confident that since she ran 5 miles, she could do the 10K. The morning was bright and beautiful after a week in which we had four straight days of rain. I decided to layer because I knew if the sun came out while crossing the Mass Ave bridge, it would be brutally hot. I changed from shorts to capris because I did not want my knee joints to feel cold prior to the race. Tim and Deborah, their wonderful son Alex and Sherri arrived promptly at 9:30. You could feel the nervous energy of the Sparkling Divas as we got our water, went to the bathroom, decided what we would need to bring, what we could leave, took photos (see above) and off we went to take the T to the Boston Common.

We had plenty of time before the race to check out the expo. I had the lovely opportunity to meet a friend from Twitter, @Kissing_Frogs at the Luna booth who is going to be running her first marathon in January. We met up with 'the boys', did our warm up and had one last pit stop before heading to the starting line. Deborah acknowledged she felt a little overwhelmed by it all. I told her to think of this as just another training run or as my fellow runners like to say - taking our victory lap. Sherri decided that she was going to run her own race which made so much sense since she runs a 9 minute mile. We all started together, gave hugs and high fives and were pumped up as we s-l-o-w-l-y made our way to the starting line. I realized during our warm up that I had not put on my watch and my heart monitor. Subconsciously I knew that I wasn't supposed to focus on time or heart rate.

I had no idea how many minutes it took us to cross the starting line. For the first time in a race, I let go of time. I let go of all the fears and angst of being last, of having to catch up, of being less than the rest of the runners and all the voices I had internalized and harbored for so many years. My friend and spiritual sister Kate Loving Shenk talks about how our 'stories' can get in the way of us enjoying the moment. I was not going to let the myths and untruths about me rob me of enjoying this incredible moment running side by side with a dear friend. What beautiful moments flowed out on the course with Deborah. We talked about nothing and we talked about everything.

As I instilled confidence in Deborah about the run (having run it in 2008 and also having done the training run with my running and life partner Tom just a week ago), I felt my own confidence soar. It was a mid day race which can be a challenge for fueling and pacing. I spaced out my breakfast over an hour and decided to have a banana pre race and use gel during the run.I live in the flow and go with the flow of the moment. When we got to mile 1 the clock read 24:00 minutes - what we did a 24 minute mile was a brief flashing thought but then I knew that it was not the case. I decided to see the time of our next mile and then would know what pace we were doing and how long it took to cross the starting line.

As it turns out we did a 15 minute mile for the first mile.16:00 minute mile for mile 2 - great pace for the start of the race. And saw that we were holding a 16 minute pace to miles 3 and 4. After that I let go of looking at the time. The goal here was very different from other races for me. My goal was to enjoy providing support to a friend who was about to accomplish something she had never done before; to help her push past any thoughts of limitation. Our strategy was to run the entire race (a first for Deborah) but walk through water stations. As we made the turn at the BU bridge heading back and Deborah saw the Mass. Ave bridge in the distance she said, 'we have to run all the way over that?'. I smiled and I told her stories of our marathon training runs - meltdowns, and funny moments. Who would have ever dreamed that I was doing for Deborah what so many runners have done for me -- talking her through a run, keeping her distracted as we ticked off the miles and instilling confidence in her health and fitness journey. When we got to mile 4, Deborah said that it was a psychological milestone because she knew we were more than halfway there.

As we approached the bridge, I suggested that Deborah just enjoy the beautiful view. Deborah stopped on the Mass. Ave bridge to take a photo on our way back into Boston. Once we got to Commonwealth Avenue, Deborah kicked it into high gear - and I mean high gear. Talk about a negative split. She was hauling and at this point she was asking me if I was okay. I said oh yeah - let's get to our guys at the finish line. At the last water stop, there were men in suits and tuxedoes holding the water cups in the cardboard box as waiters. What a fantastic touch Tufts 10K!

We began passing runners and walkers; I said, 'Look where we are Deborah' and she said, 'that doesn't mean anything to me'. I took for granted that I lived in Boston for the past almost 40 years and forgot she would not know the milestones so I told her all we had to do to get the chute down the finish line. I decided to take more gel at the last water stop and boy am I glad I did. Deborah was hauling and she was now setting the pace for us. As we turned the corner toward the finish line I got really choked up realizing the overwhelming meaning of the moment - for Deborah and for me. I told her to drink in every moment of coming down the chute. As we approached we heard the announcer say, "And here come the Sparkling Divas. Mary McManus and Deborah Woodbury Doiron. Go Sparkling Divas. You're almost there. Great job." (My husband Tom was by the announcer and he asked her to announce us). We saw Tom, Tim, Alex and Sherri and Alex was holding our Sparkling Divas sign. When Deborah and I crossed the finish line, we hugged each other so tightly. We did indeed start strong and finish stronger and I was there to experience the incredible joy of my friend having run her first 10K.

For me, this year's Tufts 10K is an incredibly emotional experience. I have written about how last year I was told it was time to give up running. The MRI of my cervical spine showed bone spurs, degenerative changes, bulging whatevers, esophagael bogginess etc etc. My last trigger injection was over a year ago. The fatigue and weakness had resurfaced. I did not know what the future held for me - again - but I knew that no matter what I would celebrate and be grateful for what I did have; I also knew that I was not going to 'settle' and would do everything within my power to be as healthy and fit as I could be. Truth be told, it is better than I could have ever dreamed it to be.

So what's next for the Sparkling Divas? The SuperHero 5K on Halloween (which will be my fifth race in five months!) and the Hyannis 10K in February. We'll see what pops up between now and then. Oh and by the way, my finish time was 4 minutes off of the Harvard Pilgrim 10K in July! Sweet!

Visit Mary McManus.com to see all the amazing adventures I am on - poetry books, creating original poetry for every occasion, News and Events with my upcoming appearances. I am blessed and grateful.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
With love from my heart to yours,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sparkling Divas - Pre Race Report

When I woke up this morning I had a lot of pre race jitters and was feeling very weepy. Rather than fight the feeling I decided to make a space around it and look into what was happening. The first place I looked was at the blog post I wrote a year ago as I recapped watching my daughter run last year's race.

I had thought that I was through with running because of the cervical spine disease and the toll that training for and running the Boston Marathon had taken on my body. After hearing yesterday's race announcer and seeing so many women in all shapes, sizes and with many different challenges I decided that once again I will not let anyone tell me I can't do something. I will take this winter to heal and to get stronger and next October I will proudly take my start next to my daughter for the running of the 34th Annual Tufts 10K.

I will proudly take my start tomorrow for the running of the 34th Annual Tufts 10K only it will be beside two friends and we call ourselves The Sparkling Divas! I had blogged about the significance of running with two girlfriends; from easy out Alper (my maiden name) and no one wanting me on their team to running side by side with two wonderful friends after being told that I would not run again. This will be my fourth race in 5 months; I will be running 5 races in 5 months on Halloween as my husband and I run the SuperHero 5K.

When I picked up my number I was overcome with emotion. Yes, I have run three other races but this is the one that I declared I would be back running again a year ago. Truth be told I had no idea how. I was so deconditioned last year; the pain from cervical spine disease was intense and fatigue and weakness were prevalent. I feel like the Phoenix who has risen from the ashes or better yet like the beautiful butterfly that is emerging from the cocoon yet again stronger and more determined to continue to fly and spread my message of hope and possibility.

So with a lot of hard work during this past year to rehabilitate myself once again, having an incredible running and training partner in my husband Tom, an incredible circle of runner friends who embrace my journey and show me so much love and support, I will, indeed, proudly take my place at the start of the 34th running of the Tufts 10K.

To read more about my journey visit Mary McManus.com and read about the new world I created after the life altering diagnosis of post polio syndrome.

God bless, be well and live like you were dying
With love from my heart to yours,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ride - Running in the Rain

Yes, followers, yet another song from my playlist - pretty soon you'll be able to make your own running playlist from my blog titles - smile! Today it's Martina McBride's Ride

You wake up from your dreamin' and you don't want to face the day
You can't find a reason to think your world will ever change
You can hide beneath the covers
Or you can run outside, head up high and carry on

Life is a roller coaster ride
Time turns the wheel and love collides
Faith is believing you can close your eyes and touch the sky
To shine while you have the chance to shine
Laugh even when you want to cry
Hold on tight to what you feel inside and ride

It brings you up slowly then shoots you like a rocket towards the ground
It twists you and it shakes you before it turns you upside down
You can't see what's around the corner
And you can't look back, so just live it up and feel the rush

Life is a roller coaster ride
Time turns the wheel and love collides
Faith is believing you can close your eyes and touch the sky
So shine while you have the chance to shine
Laugh even when you want to cry
Hold on tight to what you feel inside and ride

Ride, ride, yeah

Oh yeah, shine while you have the chance to shine
Laugh even when you want to cry
Hold on tight to what you feel inside and ride

Ride, ride, yeah, yeah

I awoke to a grey, drizzly day here in Brookline. There was a slight chill in the air. The debate began - recumbent bike or get outside and go for a run. I have less than a week to go before the Tufts 10K. I just needed to do a good 45 minute cardio work out. I know I am ready for race day but want to keep my edge. I opted for a run outside. Truth be told, last winter I overdosed on my recumbent bike if one can do such a thing and any time I have the opportunity to get outside, I would much prefer it. I remembered a training run in the pouring rain - 11 miles -- umpteen times around the reservoir near our house so we could come home and immediately hop into the shower without having to get into the car.

There is magic in the rain. Shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome I had a dream. I took off my brace and went outside and danced barefoot in the rain a la Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain. When I awoke, I wrote the poem
Come Out And Play (From New world Greetings:Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World):
Arms flung open wide, dancing in the rain
Pure abiding joy to feel alive again.
Healing tears fall and blend in God's puddle
No time to sit in a corner and huddle.
All the old rules driven by fears
Washed away now by God's loving tears
The imprint Dad left no longer remains
Rain washes away all of the stains.
Baptized with Love, Truth lights my way
The sun shines through on this rany day.
Splashing and laughing, my heart opens wide
Embracing and flowing, I'm one with the tide.
God takes my hand - release the old way

And so I chose to go outside and play in the rain today. I donned a hat, my marathon jacket, black capris, old running shoes and socks and my iPod. I sang in the rain as I ran around the reservoir where there was fog and mist. Through the fog I could see the muted colors of the leaves on the tree. I only ran once around and then decided to do a pavement run thinking that I would be drier and less muddy. Little did I know that I would be baptized by the water from a car that raced through a puddle. All I could do was laugh.

This new found freedom and unbridled joy is due in large part to the soul work I continue to do by meditating, writing in my journal, reading my dear friend and soul sister's Prayer Blog, Daily Word and sharing in the joy filled journey of my fellow runners and so many beautiful friends. I have a confidence in my body and I am no longer afraid of going out into a chilly rain. I am fearless on a whole new level. I feel incredibly blessed that I continue to receive positive and loving feedback from friends old and new in social media. It fuels my journey. My documentary is reaching audiences across the country as I send them to friends and Rotarians. My joy also comes from sharing this journey with my life long partner on and off the roads. While some may groan that it was a lousy day outside and when will the rain ever stop, I felt incredible joy that I could go out and do a training run as I prepare to run my fourth race in five months next Monday, The Tufts 10K.

To learn more about my journey visit www.marymcmanus.com
Check out New World Greeting Cards and my books of inspirational poetry which make wonderful gifts as the holiday season rapidly approaches!

God bless, be well and enjoy every minute!
Take time to go out and dance in the rain
With love,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You Know You Are A Runner When.....

My friend Doug Welch has a twitter moniker of @reallynotarunnr. On a recent interview with Chris Russell of Run, Run Live, he explained that he would tell people that he was really not a runner. He had been overweight and won his firehouse challenge for the Biggest Loser and then decided to take on the challenge of a lifetime - run the Boston Marathon! He still keeps his Twitter moniker even though he really is a runner. This past week I was interviewed for an article in Woman's Day magazine. Now don't get all excited yet, the editor has to make her final decision of whether or not to include my odyssey in the article. I had sent in my pitch through Help A Reporter Out and the freelance writer had follow up questions for me. She told me that her editor was intrigued with the fact that I had run the Boston Marathon. How did I overcome the debilitating illness to train and run the Boston Marathon?! She said, "You mentioned in your pitch that you had never felt like an athlete none the less a runner. Do you feel like a runner now?"

This morning as my husband and I prepared to get out and run the Tufts 10K Course I said to him - you know you're a runner when you go out and run the race course a week before the race to get the feel of it. I had run Tufts two years ago; last year I thought my running career was over. I knew the course but I felt the need to just get out there and run it on this glorious Fall day - beautiful blue sky, sun glistening on the Charles River, a cool breeze and no humidity. Perfect running conditions. We started out a a slow pace out of necessity. There were throngs of people on Charles Street which is where the race begins. Once we got to the Longfellow Bridge I began my run. Tom power walked (he'll be doing his long run tomorrow) but kept me at a pretty good pace. i drank in the miracle of the moment. We finished 6.1 miles in 92 minutes - just a little over a 15 minute pace! It was awesome....

A year ago the symptoms of post polio and cervical spine disease flared. I accepted the possibility that I might not run again until I heard the announcer at the finish line of the Tufts 10K last year. I stood waiting for my daughter to cross the finish line and heard the announcer say, "Are you going to let anyone tell you you can't do something?" I knew God was speaking to me only back then I had no idea the miraculous recovery I would make yet again.

I am so grateful to Dr. El Abd and Catherine Barry at the Newton Wellesley Hospital Spine Center for giving me the tools to manage the pain. Trigger injection, outpatient physical therapy, a home exercise program and a cervical spine machine. I spent the winter doing strength training - core and cervical spine and using the recumbent bike for cardiovascular training. You have no idea how incredibly boring it is to do cardio training on a recumbent bike but I used an iPod, the television, reading - anything to distract me from the tedium of the bike indoors. I started running again and my triumphant return was at the New Charles River Run 5K.
It is the story of Forrest Gump who is able to break free of his leg brace; it is the story of Wilma Rudolph who overcame the challenge of polio to become an Olympic Champion, it is the story of hope and possibility that with perseverance and faith and being open to whomever God places in your path that miracles do happen. I am living proof!

So how do I know I am a runner? You know you are a runner when....
You run the race course a week before the race-I had never done this before. This is something that all of the elite athletes do to get their race strategy. I may not be able to run a 5 minute mile (or better) as Mollie Huddle has, but I sure do consider myself among the elite athletes.

A shopping spree means going to Marathon Sports to get new running shoes, bra and capris.

You have a bag of epsom salt and a jar of ginger by the bathtub.

Your closet has more schwag t shirts than street clothes and you prefer your race schwag shirts to designer clothes any day.

The only watch you own is a Polar which accompanies your heart monitor.

Your shoe wardrobe consists of the running shoes you wear for training runs and races, the worn out pair of running shoes you wear for walking and the running shoes you have in case you have to train in the rain.

You have to make sure that you always have Gel in the cabinet that has not yet expired.

Instead of destination vacations, you and your husband are looking for runcations - where can you go that will have a great race you can run.

You send in your application to L Street Running Club

Your circle of friends includes runners. You have bib numbers entered into your cell phone to get text alerts and cheer them on in their races. You check out your friends' status on Facebook to see race day photos. You follow their blogs to follow their running odyssey.

You visit Just Finish to report your workouts, training runs and to share your blog.

A well stocked bar means you have several flavors of gatorade on hand.

Someone says, "Hey you have a great tan...where have you been?" and you answer - I'm a runner.

To read more about my odyssey and feel the inspiration of a Boston Marathon run and so much more, visit www.marymcmanus.com

While you are there, purchase copies of my books of inspirational poetry. Remember I donate 20% to the Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts Foundation!

And be sure to click on the New World Greeting Cards link to see the samples of original poetry I can create just for you - all from the comfort of your own home!

God bless, be well and enjoy every moment.
With love from my heart to yours,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sparkling Divas Shine!

Who knew that when I joined the Just Finish community that I would meet Tim "Derv" Doiron and that his wife Deborah would become my running buddy...but that's what happened. When I first went on Twitter in December of 2008, Kevin Green invited me to join his running community on line. His philosophy was calling all walkers, runners, cyclists of all athletic abilities. I found incredible support in this community while I trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon; I also met incredible friends one of whom asked to meet me at the Hyannis 2009 Marathon. We became fast friends.

This year, I was inspired to invite his wife Deborah to run the Tufts 10K with me. It was a bold move for me to invite someone to run with me; it meant releasing the years of rejection and taunting and teasing and embrace the moment -- Carpe diem! Deborah had never run over 4 miles and had never done a 10K road race. It was my turn to inspire and encourage her. She is a beautiful woman inside and out and today we had our 5 mile training run. There was a magical rhythm to our pacing. There was non stop conversation as we bonded during our run and the time literally flew by. We ran our 5 miles in 83 minutes - a 16:60 minute/mile not going for time but making sure that Deborah knew she could go for 5 miles. When we returned home, my husband Tom had a scrumptuous brunch waiting for us (pictured above).

There is so much love surrounding me and I am so grateful and blessed. There was such ease and joy and laughter with Deborah and especially her husband Tim. He is now not happy that my husband set the expectations for what a post run meal is supposed to be. As he said on Facebook, my wife thought that pop tarts and cereal was a great meal before you cooked this omelette. Now I'll have to cook eggs benedict to compete. We are supporting and loving each other which enables us to step out with confidence as we get ready to take the start of the Tufts 10K.

We are not stopping there! My husband has already registered for the Hyannis Half Marathon. The Sparkling Divas are not one hit wonders - oh no -- we are going to run the Hyannis 10K together. Hmmm maybe we should get T shirts made up. There is more joy and laughter and love in my life than I ever dreamed imaginable. I am healthy and whole. Usually during my morning meditation I focus on what is hurting, letting in love and light into the cells to ease the pain and visualizing that I will have enough energy to get through what I need to get through for the day. My morning meditation is focusing on the new sensations in my body - a lightness, a marked lessening of pain and feeling refreshed after a night's sleep. I face the day with a confidence in my body and a new outlook on life. There was a recent article in the NY Times about the benefits of massage. Science is proving what I know to be true.

I am so grateful for the friendship of Deborah and Tim, the unending support of my husband, my faith and belief that I am meant for this.

To learn more about my journey these past four years, visit Mary McManus Be sure to check out my company New World Greeting Cards and purchase my books of inspirational poetry. When you do, I donate 20% to Ms. Wheelchair Mass. Foundation and you receive a gift of messages of love, light, healing, gratitude and joy in the journey!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Training for the Tufts 10K - in Falmouth!

The weekend of the Falmouth Road Race, my husband and I 'left' our beach chairs at the Falmouth Inn where we stayed. How could we possibly leave them there, right? So we just had to schedule a day trip to retrieve them. Despite the heavy rains earlier in the week, I just knew we were going to have a spectacular day. Because we had a benefit concert to attend on Sunday, my husband suggested we do our run in Falmouth. Often times, I would be concerned about logistics, fueling, doing a mid day run (although the Tufts 10K starts at 12 noon) but I let go of all of that and knew that this was going to be a remarkable training run for me.

I am so blessed with my husband Tom as a life partner and as a training partner. He is not running the Tufts 10K and will be there to cheer on myself and my friend whom I convinced to run the race with me but he is committed to training right by my side every step of the way. He knew how much I wanted to run the Falmouth Road Race but because of my speed, we knew that this was not going to happen. But that doesn't mean you can't have the joy of running along the course! We were going to run 5 miles - 2 1/2 miles out on the course and 2 1/2 miles back but there are no mile markers for the half miles. I'd just run a 10K in July and we had run 4.5 miles last week with a lot of hills so as we got out on the course starting at the finish line, we decided to do 3 out and 3 back so I could experience the thrill of coming down the hill at Falmouth Heights Beach to the finish line.

Fortunately, I had brought a packet of gel with me and we had filled up our 28 oz. water bottle with ice at the Falmouth Inn. We had a great breakfast at Mary Ellen's Portugese Bakery and it's the first time I had not had my usual oatmeal and toast as pre race fueling. I had two scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast. No trip to Mary Ellen's is complete with a taste of their home made muffins so Tom and I shared a muffin. It was off to the beach to let breakfast digest and at noon, we began our run.

The noontime sun was high and hot; fortunately there was a little sea breeze. The panoramic view of the ocean took my mind off the heat and the hills. It was a thrill to be on the same course that just two weeks ago my husband along with thousands of other runners had run. It is a magnificent course and we trotted along at a steady pace. The energy was electric as we passed runners and bikers. After the week of rain, everyone was celebrating a glorious summer's day. I kept asking Tom what he was thinking during his Falmouth run as we passed mile markers and landmarks along the route.

As we passed the 6 mile marker (pictured above) for the 2nd time, I knew I had several hills ahead until we could cruise down toward the finish line. When you see the magnificent view of the sun glistening on the ocean, sailboats in full sail, seagulls swooping I forgot about everything that was happening in my body and allowed myself to be swept away putting my body on automatic pilot. We held hands as we ran down the hill toward the finish line and threw our arms up in jubilant celebration. I don't need to run the Falmouth Road Race - I just did with the best running partner in the world. P.S. My average heart rate was 141 with a peak of 160 for 1:40. That includes a 5 minute warm up and a pit stop for a pace of 16.6 minute/mile. Considering a year ago I did not know whether or not I was going to ever run again - I am delighted and grateful.

To learn more about my healing journey with polio and post polio syndrome, and my triumphant Boston Marathon run visit marymcmanus.com

Wondering what I do when I am not attending to my health and fitness journey, then come visit a whole New World I created after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome. I am the author of two books of inspirational poetry and donate 20% of book proceeds to Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts Foundation
I create original poetry for every occasion so that you don't have to settle for a greeting card that comes close to what you want to say - at New World Greeting Cards, I weave your sentiments to an original poem that expresses exactly what you want to say to celebrate and commemorate special occasions.

God bless, be well and enjoy every moment.
With love,