Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mental Toughness - High Hopes

High Hopes Lyrics:
Writer(s): Cahn/Van Heusen
Next time you're found, with your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned, so look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time you're gettin' low
'stead of lettin' go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

When troubles call, and your back's to the wall
There a lot to be learned, that wall could fall

Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he'd punch a hole in a dam
No one could make that ram, scram
He kept buttin' that dam

but he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time you're feelin' bad
'stead of feelin' sad
Just remember that ram
Oops there goes a billion kilowatt dam

All problems just a toy balloon
They'll be bursted soon
They're just bound to go pop

Oops there goes another problem kerplop
Oops, there goes another problem kerplop
Oops, there goes another problem kerplop

I remember receiving a tweet last year from @reallynotarunnr telling me that I was inspiring him as he trained for the Boston Marathon - his first marathon. I had no idea who he was or what he was about but gladly exchanged tweets with him. When we were having coffee and bagels (and Christmas cookies) after our Operation Jack Satellite Run on 12/26 a few weeks ago, Doug Welch told me that he google'd inspirational Boston Marathon You Tube videos and found me. The rest as they say is history.

So today, before I set out to run my first 7 mile run since I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon, I thought about mental toughness. I reflected on the road I have traveled before the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and the road I have traveled since then and I realize that I am blessed beyond words.

Why 7 miles and why today? My beloved team trainer from the Boston Marathon, Domenick D'Amico suggested that I get in at least one 7 mile run before I do the Hyannis 10K. I knew today was the day. I'd been preparing myself mentally for a few weeks now as I mapped out different routes on google maps. I wanted to harness my inner endurance athlete and go a route we used to run when we trained for Boston. I feel as though I have begun to master a good pace for 5K's and my 4, and 5 mile training runs. I feel comfortable doing a 10K although I do want to work on my pace. I knew today I needed to cross the line that would begin to get me into the mind set of being an endurance runner again.

I'm 57 years old. A little over a year ago I hit the wall but to quote the song,
"When troubles call, and your back's to the wall
There a lot to be learned, that wall could fall."

The wall of post polio syndrome fell away for me today. It was 23 degrees outside and at times there was a headwind. There was snow and ice on the ground. The route I chose had four really steep hills to navigate. I had done this run what seems like a hundred times before. Go down Chestnut Hill Avenue, by the Cleveland Circle Reservoir, up the hill on Beacon Street to Newton Center to the corner of Centre Street and Beacon Street and come home. To make it 7 miles, I had to run .2 miles to the Heath School before ending my run. Whenever I had run a distance longer than 5 miles, I had a running partner or two by my side. Today, I braved the elements and the distance alone with iPod and my thoughts to keep me going.

I remembered different moments of Team McManus' marathon training - like the day Ruth Anne fell in a snow bank trying to make sure I could safely navigate my way through the snow and we laughed so hard I almost peed myself. I announced to the world and no one in particular I might need to wear Depends on Marathon Monday. Tom wasn't running that day but was in the car helping us with our fuel and water and in the distance all he could see were Ruth Anne's two legs sticking up out of the snow bank. We ran 16 miles that day and did a 15 minute pace. I remember our last long run along that route - 21 miles in near sub zero degree temps. I couldn't run that day but did a power walk to get the miles into our legs. On the way back I could feel a heel blister emerge but wasn't gonna stop. I knew that this was all part of the training I had to endure in order to reach my goal of the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I am grateful to Doug and Domenick D'Amico, all of my friends on Daily Mile and Just Finish, Ashley, Jessie, Melody and all the #NERTS who celebrate my victories with me. I love sharing in the celebration of their victories - a PR, a first marathon - whatever the goal is - we are all there for each other. And if we fall short of a goal - we cheer each other on reminding ourselves there is always tomorrow - and we always have High Hopes!

I certainly have high hopes that we are going to blow away our goal of $5,000 for Childrens Hospital for Tom's Boston Marathon this year. You can help - just make your donation on his fund raising page For those of you in the Boston area, a $10 donation will get you the hottest a cappella ticket in town.

Be sure to visit my website and check out all the exciting news and events, read my inspirational poetry and get ready for Valentine's Day with New World Greeting Cards.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours - always keep High Hopes
With love,

Monday, January 10, 2011

One Percent

"The miracle isn't that I finished; the miracle is that I had the courage to start." - John Bingham

Did you know that less than one percent of the world's population has ever finished a marathon? That is one statistic I am thrilled to be a part of. Now I know I ran Boston two years ago so why bring this up now? Well this year I have been blessed to welcome two fellow #NERTS into the 26.2 Club. Ashley Niven ran the Chicago Marathon in 85 degree heat I might add and just yesterday, Jessie Kraus crossed the finish line of the Disney Marathon. As I tracked both Jessie and Ashley, I remembered the thrill of running my first marathon and what a joy to welcome new members to the 26.2 club.

What is it about a marathon? Why is it that only a very small percentage of the population ever finish a marathon? Since I saw all the runners on Heartbreak Hill yesterday training for Boston, I thought I might offer some marathon musings to inspire both veteran and virgin marathoners who are getting ready for Boston.

I said the words "And I wanna run the Boston Marathon" in February 2008. These words by passed any cognitive functioning whatsoever. It was an urge, a yearning. I'd been in Boston for many years and during recovery from my reconstructive leg surgery when I was on and off crutches for the better part of two years, I would joke as I would see people training for Boston - "No I don't think I'll run Boston this year" having no idea that my unconscious was preparing the way long before I even knew I would lace up a pair of running shoes.

So there I was just coming out of a leg brace and barely discharged from outpatient rehab for post polio syndrome and Team McManus was formed - a most unlikely trio to ever run - let alone a marathon..let alone any marathon but THE Boston Marathon. Our daughter was a self proclaimed couch potato, my husband hadn't run a 10K in years and was overweight and out of shape and I was a polio/post polio survivor who thought that athletics were for anyone but me.

But with courage, fierce determination, a lot of faith, a lot of ignorance (which at times was bliss for if you don't know what might befall you while training for a marathon, you go blissfully through the process), incredible humor, focus, unconditional love and mutual support (key ingredients cited by the way as the important ingredients for the 2004 winning Boston Red Sox team as noted by Dr. Eric Leskowitz in his newly released book, "The Joy of Sox:Weird Science and the Power of Intention". I will be dedicating a blog post to a book review once I finish reading it - it is phenomenal...but I digress) we made it to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.

So why doesn't everyone run a marathon? I know that our trainer, Domenick D'Amico often hears people say "Oh I could never run a marathon" and he tells them my story. My story shows how the power of belief and intention can indeed move mountains - or maybe just Heartbreak Hill. So here's to everyone training for Boston 2011 - and remember - if I can run a marathon - so can you!

And my husband Tom is answering the call again - this time for Childrens Hospital Boston - so let's show some love and make that tote board climb! With every $10 donation you get a ticket to the hottest a cappella fest in town! And if you can't join us, your donation can be used toward being entered in our Take a Chance at Intermission.

If you need an extra dose of inspiration - here's the trailer from my documentary, "Keeping the Pace:The Mary McManus Story."

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