Tuesday, November 5, 2013

For Old Times Sake

Early Sunday morning, the rain was pouring down. In a few weeks we'll be running The Feaster Five on Thanksgiving morning. We have no idea what the weather will be like so I knew we had to get out there and do our training run.

I have also begun training for the 2014 Tufts 10K for Women so I knew I needed to continue to maintain mileage. Tom and I were deciding where to do our training run and we resorted to our old go to place for inclement weather; the Reservoir on Route 9.

We know it's about a mile around and about .8 miles from our house to the Reservoir. Perfect roughly 4.5 miles.

So when we were training for the 2009 Boston Marathon, we had to get a lot of miles into our legs. When you are a novice runner, without any of the fancy running gadgets, you resort to a rather primitive style to track how many times you go around the Reservoir. We broke a long stick into smaller sticks. Every time we would complete a lap, we would toss the stick aside. I remember when we were up to oh about 11 miles and it was pouring rain and cold. That was our first long run in the rain.

For old times sake we decided to use the stick method. Of course it was easy to keep track of 3 times around but there was something magical for me to resurrect the endurance runner within me.

Yet everything is so different now. Back when I was training for the marathon, I couldn't move in my body; I forced my body to move and yet it was a critical first step in being able to move beyond paralytic polio and trauma. I feel so wonderful in my body. I am taking it slow and steady.

I loved being outdoors. I felt unbridled joy experiencing the rain and being able to maintain my body warmth despite the chill in the air. I didn't time us but I could tell from my heart rate we were going at a really good pace.

During one of our laps I had this image of jumping over a hurdle. I have never jumped a hurdle in my life. When we had the pummel horse out in gym class and we were expected to jump over it, I would freeze in my tracks. I did not have the strength or coordination to even attempt such a thing.

Yet in my mind's eye, I was able to visualize myself graceful and jumping. I realized that I was connecting to Wilma Rudolph. She had polio and other infectious diseases as a child but with a mother's love and powerful healing intention and being surrounded by brothers who encouraged and challenged her, she became the first American woman to win 3 Olympic Gold Medals in Track and Field.

Take four minutes to watch this video about her triumph over polio

I am so blessed to have Tom by my side, stride by stride, encouraging and supporting me. And while I don't have another marathon in me, it was sure a joy to train like we once did for old times sake.

from A Celebration of Life now available on Amazon
This is the first poem I wrote after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome in the cold, dark winter of 2007 as I emerged from the dark night of my soul. The unconscious was preparing the way for me to run the Boston Marathon

Running the Race - Feb, 2007
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
the polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist, curly hair and a warm, broad smile
it tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.
I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
with no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
suffered in silence, isolated from friends-trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team and they were on my side.
Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
while in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
for the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
so much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

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