Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hey Hey Look Who's Running ....

Three years later ... 1st Sunday in June The Corrib Pub Run 5K. My first road race ever in 2008 on my road to the Boston Marathon. Back then I had barely run for 40 minutes straight and at 45 minutes I had to walk until we were ready to hit the downhill to the finish line. Our time 51 minutes and change. 2009 with the Boston Marathon behind us, Team McManus ran the Corrib Pub Run again. I had thought that the Team Hoyt 5K was my last road race that year but remembered we did Corrib Pub. Our time was 7 minutes faster than when we first ran the race. I reread the blog post from the 2009 run and am smiling! I would certainly hope that in these last two years I would grow as a writer, as a runner and a person, and I can say with certainty I sure have.

We didn't run the 2010 Corrib Pub Run because Tom was driving our daughter to begin her new adventures as a young adult. I cannot believe it is a whole year since we became empty nesters. I remember 'comforting' myself with the thought that in a year we'll be running the Corrib Pub Run again and have made the transition to empty nesters. And here we are!

The weather - glorious. My kind of weather - sunny and a cool breeze. I did my fueling for a noontime race start but always carry a pack of gel just in case and always bring water especially in the warmer weather. I meditated, did my breathing exercises and stretched and mentally prepared myself for another road race. During my meditation I pondered, why do I run? Why do I run road races? Initially I ran because I had something to prove. Then I ran because I had something to prove and focused on PR's. Now I run because I have nothing to prove but I enjoy running road races and love the energy, the camaraderie and the joy of being inside my body being physically active.

As Tom and I walked down the stairs to the field at the Corrib Pub Run, we reflected on these past several years. He said that if I did not take as good a care of myself as I do, that we would have had to adapt our home and I'd be in a wheelchair. Now there are circumstances beyond a person's control when they are not able to regain mobility but I believe in my situation, with post polio syndrome, that with maintaining an exquisite health and fitness regimen and calling upon many sources of healing - physical, emotional and spiritual, that I can lead an incredibly healthy life. Tom said that he was grateful for all of the hard work I do to stay healthy and fit. I believe that while there are some things I have no control over (such as some of the neurological damage from polio that causes head tremors and the need to work hard at strengthening previously weakened muscles), I can do everything I can to stack the deck in my favor of health and fitness and part of that is getting out there for runs and road races. As Bill Rodgers (yes that Bill Rodgers of Boston Marathon fame) told me when we met at Camp Hyannis that running stimulates the neurological system and can help to forestall the progression of so called progressive neurological diseases.

Usually before a road race, I feel a lot of anxiety. Actually before going to a yoga class, or an individual yoga lesson or body work, I can feel a lot of anxiety. It's the anxiety that accompanies movement, challenging myself and changes, but this anxiety is diminishing as I feel more and more at home in my earthly home. Today I felt excitement more than anxiety. What a thrill to return to the race that was my first ever road race. How I love being able to run side by side with my husband Tom as he encourages and supports me and we find that delicate balance between challenging myself but not pushing too hard crossing into the land of suffering. We bumped into one of his colleagues from Childrens Hospital and had a great pre race convo. Just as I was thinking ooh I should have brought a piece of fruit with me - orange slices seemed to appear out of nowhere. Perfect!

The first mile has an uphill and we were running hard but Tom also reminded me that we need to keep a lot in the tank for the hills at the end as well. What was amazing was that unlike other road races where we are in the back of the pack pretty quickly, we were a part of the sea of 2000 runners through the first mile. I got a little choked up as I actually felt a part of this amazing experience. I heard Spirit speak to me and say, "There is no disconnection unless you create it."

We made it to mile marker 1 and the volunteer told us our time 16 minutes gun time. Tom and I looked at our times and it was 15:00. At first I felt frustrated because I thought we were running faster than the time reflected and then I told myself to release all of that and allow myself to tune into my body and enjoy the moments of being out on the road. When I let go of all that doesn't matter, I feel incredible joy running in a road race. I love the energy of the cheers and the energy of the runners. I am passed and I pass walkers. There is no competition. I am setting the pace and running my own race. I have said those words so many times and today and at the Team Hoyt 5K I felt those words deep in my heart and soul. When I strip away what doesn't matter, I can feel the joy!

The neighborhoods all come out to cheer and set up their own water stops in addition to the water stop set up by the race organizers. They have hoses and even though it wasn't a broiling hot day, the sun was hot and running through a sprinkler is so refreshing and FUN! Now it may not seem like a big deal to you to run through a sprinkler but it sure is to me. In a way I am so blessed to have had the challenges I had because I take such pleasure and am so grateful for the little things in life. To have lived through the summer of 1971 when I was basically a prisoner in my own home and couldn't go out after 5 pm because my father would come to the house in alcoholic rages, I can deeply appreciate the joy of running free on a summer's day. To have been paralyzed and been through so many surgeries, a leg brace, a cast and to have felt so trapped for so long in this body leaves me feeling so grateful and appreciative of the moments of movement.

And then Tom tells me - look we are at mile 2 - where I ask? - right up there and then we hear "Hey Hey look who's running?" and it's none other than Mac, the President of our L Street Running Club. He high fives us and smiles and radiates love for Team McManus. He then came running after us to give us our time - 31 minutes - that's gun time I shout to Mac and off we went. We could feel each other's sense of playfulness. I knew we had taken a minute off of our second mile and smiled but I smiled even more deeply to feel a part of this amazing running community. I knew we only had 1.1 miles left and so I was gonna leave nothing on the road. I felt well and so we picked up the pace until...oh no I forgot about this hill. I decided to walk briskly to bring down my heart rate a little and leave some in the tank for a strong finish.

We turned the corner to the long downhill to the finish line. Tom told me to lean a little forward and take small steps and let gravity do the work but I could move my feet more quickly if I wanted. Then as we were approaching the finish Tom said to me - this is it, go for it and with that I channelled Forrest Gump. I can't tell you how amazing I felt inside to feel so comfortable sprinting to the finish line. I didn't care about the time, I cared about the movement; I cared about opening up my body to full throttle and yes I do love hearing the cheering of the crowds as I take off but it's also the internal cheers I feel for myself that make the journey so sweet. I ran the race in 44:39 taking off a minute from 2009 but despite the time which 'wasn't' an overall PR, I felt it definitely was a PR in so many ways! Thanks to the hills my average heart rate was 160 with a peak of 176. The peak of my target zone for my age is 140. Yeah hey hey - look who's running now!

God bless, be well and give it all you've got
With love and gratitude from my heart to yours,

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