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 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 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 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
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

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,