Thursday, September 11, 2014

Come Follow Me to my New Blog - Life is a Marathon - Journey Well!

Thank you to all who have been following my blog. Be sure to follow me on my new blog Life is a Marathon - Journey Well at www.marathonjourneywell.blogspot.com

My first blog title was Welcome to a New World. I started blogging at the suggestion of two students from Boston University's PR lab in October of 2008. I smile as I read my early posts and realize I had no idea how to use social media and how to blog. I was posting about my greeting card business, New World Greeting Cards, original poetry for every occasion and training for the Boston Marathon. The title reflected my transition from life as a VA social worker to well a new world after the diagnosis of post polio syndrome.

I changed the title from Welcome to a New World to Healing, Hope and Possibility interestingly enough on the morning of April 15, 2013. My message was no longer about welcoming readers to my new world but sharing a message of healing, hope and possibility after a life changing diagnosis and living with the aftermath of trauma.

It's time once again for a change. Rather than sharing a message of healing, hope and possibility, I am living that message and want my blog title to reflect the living aspect of my journey. I decided to begin a new blog; a new starting line if you will.

On Saturday night I was blessed to be a guest on the Jordan Rich Show.

As we talked about my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility", I said that life is a marathon. Just when you think you can't take another step, there is always something left in the tank. You're stronger than you think you are.

As I was leaving my therapist's office at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork, on the Thursday before the weekend of the 2014 Boston Marathon, anticipating the weekend's events, Joseph said to me, "journey well".

I am learning how to go the distance on and off the roads and how to now journey well, managing the late effects of having contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5 and in the wake of severe childhood trauma. My intention for my blog is to share race reports, training runs, new experiences and the joy of new discoveries on my road to health and aging well; wisdom and soul lessons learned; poetry, people who inspire us, my next miles in the marathon of my life and anything that inspires me/moves me to share with you on the open road before me.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A New Starting Line - A New Blog

After six years of blogging and changing titles from Welcome to a New World to Healing, Hope and Possibility, I decided it was time to begin a new blog with a new title.

Rather than spreading a message of healing, hope and possibility, I am living a message of healing, hope and possibility and wanted my blog title and content to reflect that shift.

So come follow me at Life is a Marathon - Journey Well.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I Run for Lobster and Bling-Life has a way of planning for us!

Life has a funny way of planning for us. Yesterday, even though it was hot and humid, I knew I needed to get in my training run. I had done a sweet seven miles last week. Tom and I decided to do 5 miles as I count down the weeks until the Tufts 10K for Women. It's always good to change up the route and we went to an old standby; part of the Boston Marathon course down and back on Beacon Street from our home.

We tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. Fortunately we have two water belts and I had frozen the water bottles. We drank and dumped water on our heads. There were hills and headwinds and yet, through it all, I was talking about how amazing it felt to be back on the Boston Marathon course.

"Don't even think about it," Tom cautioned me.

It is so easy to remember the thrill of crossing the finish line and receiving your bling and not remembering the pain of training.

I decided to enjoy the moment relishing my Boston Marathon run in 2009 and feeling ecstatic that I am out running again after time away from running and my beloved running community.

As Tom and I were leaving the Merrimack Valley Striders meeting on June 25th, Lyn Licciardiello asked us if we were going to do the Ogunquit Beach Lobster Dash. She told us about the race and how it's a great time for the Striders to run together and have a great post race party.



When we got home, I registered Tom for the race.

I began to see the Facebook stream for the event. Something stirred inside of me. I was planning to be support crew for Tom and do my Tufts 10K training run on Sunday but why not use this race as a training run and preparation for Tufts? After doing the hills in heat and humidity, I was feeling very confident.

My only concern was whether or not it was a fast field.

I checked last year's results on Cool Running. The back of the pack runners were definitely at my pace.

When I asked the question was it a race for all paces on Facebook, I received the most incredible outpouring of support along with one Strider who decided if she couldn't run it she would walk it and enjoy the day.

I also asked the deal breaker question - was there bling?

I know it may sound silly to some but it's been a very long time since I ran a race where I received a medal. I think the last one was the Hyannis 10K in 2011. For me it's a symbol of running the race set before me with endurance. It's a tangible to remind me of my grit, my strength, my courage and my determination.

The answer was yes! And, one member said, there is also a lobster roll after a 5 mile race along the beach along with a great post race party.

I registered and will channel my inner Chariots of Fire as we run along beautiful Ogunquit Beach. The Lobster Dash was not on my race calendar as I counted down the weeks until Tufts nor was the Bill Rodgers 5K Run for Prostate Cancer or the Spectacle Island Run that just happened to be set before me after I volunteered at the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon and Festival Weekend. But somehow life has a way of planning for us. Next Saturday, I will be running for lobster and bling with my wonderful running family.



"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.



Friday, September 5, 2014

Peace is a Garden

With all the events happening in the world and with my own journey of healing and transformation after experiencing violence, I decided we needed a post about peace. During this morning's meditation and in yesterday's treatment session at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork, I imagined the room filled with doves. I experienced the beating of my heart being in rhythm with the fluttering of the doves' wings.



I composed this poem:

Peace is a Garden

Peace is a garden
roots deep
fertile Mother Earth a plea to her children
tend
attend
grow your heart
reach out to one another
to heaven
heaven on earth
weeds of rage tenderly excised
laid to rest
tears of compassion water the garden of peace
solace
solitude
come sit with me
and just be.






"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.




Thursday, September 4, 2014

Surfer Girl

"Do you want to finish with the cardio circuit or balance?" our therapist at Spaulding Aquatics Therapy class asked us.

We decided to finish with balance.

After an invigorating and challenging 35 minutes or so that included aqua jogging, strengthening hips with four way resistance exercises (so much more enjoyable than a theraband I am quick to add), pendulum swings for core strength with outstretched arms holding dumbbells, and contralateral quick step movements with laps, we took our kick boards to the deep end of the pool.

First up is finding our balance sitting on the kick boards then look ma no hands. To up level, we close our eyes and really harness the power of our core.



"Now see if you can stand on it. You can always use a noodle and come in the shallow end."

I'd seen a lot of beach blanket bingo movies in my day (said at the risk of dating myself) and channeled my inner Frankie Avalon:



I confidently stepped on to the kick board with one leg and then the other -- whoa whoa whoa -- this is harder than it looks.

Wipe out.

Lots of laughter.

Okay I've done this before but it's been awhile. I've got this.

After a few times, I was able to stand and did a few leg push ups for good measure.

Our therapist told us that she'd give us a few more minutes and then we'd need to come in and stretch. I simulated surfing by using my arms to surf swim to shore and staying upright on the kick board.

There were so many activities that I couldn't try in my youth or so I thought as a result of having contracted paralytic polio. But it's never too late to become surfer girl.



"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Journey Well

It was the Thursday before Boston Marathon weekend 2014. My therapist at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork knew the events that were coming up for me, for the city of Boston and people watching and waiting around the world. Thursday evening was our annual pre marathon meeting at L Street Running Club. Saturday was the BAA 5K, the Boston Marathon Expo and many events honoring survivors and their families. On Sunday we took the field at Fenway Park to represent the BAA volunteers and Monday was when Boston raced again.

As we said goodbye Joseph said to me, "Journey well."

With those two words I knew that I had to write another book and that the title would be "Journey Well."

Every book begins with a blank page.

I had no idea what was going to fill the pages of Journey Well. It's been written in real time woven together with excerpts from my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility", poems, blog posts from then and now and journal entries. I know the arc of my story ends with my running of the 2014 Tufts 10K. I have been revising and editing and editing some more as I go along.

What is my intention for writing Journey Well?

April 15, 2013 was a defining moment in my life and in the lives of people in Boston and around the world. It was a personal wake up call for me to return to my healing path and the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for me throughout my marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent.

My intention is to capture the essence of Boston Strong through my experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as I profile the people who are Boston Stronger.

In Journey Well, I take an honest look at what led me to stray from my healing path and the running community in the hopes that others who are vulnerable and hungry for healing will be discerning about who and what they choose to help them heal.

Despite the horrific events I experienced in my life, I always kept the spark of hope, healing and possibility alive in my heart and soul. I am blessed with the gifts of Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab, weekly treatments with Joseph at Sollievo that help me to heal mind, body and Spirit, my running and the unconditional love, laughter and support in the running community. My village grows. I have been so blessed with experiences that make for a great read - and a life well lived.

We can always begin again. And no matter what happens to us, we can always find a way to journey well.

And now - drumroll please -- unveiling the cover of Journey Well with deepest thanks to Kathleen Healy Fencil and J. Alain Ferry of RaceMenu and Race Director extraordinaire for the inspiration and cover and author photos.





"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.








Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy Swimiversary



August 30, 2013 I experienced my first Aquatics Therapy class at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. As I reread my blog post from a year ago, I realize it is now 8 years since I became sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and took the first steps on my healing journey at Spaulding Rehab's Internaitonal Rehab Center for Polio at their outpatient clinic in Framingham in October of that year.

I knew there were benefits of Aquatics Therapy but am amazed to experience the transformation and healing that is happening in large part thanks to the twice weekly therapy classes at Spaulding.

I am up to 5 pound ankle weights and last Saturday I ran for seven sweet miles.

I can do squats with dumbbells. New neuromuscular connections fire up as we are challenged with balance exercises and contralateral movements. I remember how disorganized I felt with movements in the pool. I feel a sense of grace and ease in my body as I move and laugh as I try new exercises.

I love being in the pool. The warm waters heal. I feel more confidence and strength in my body than I did this time last year; than I have ever felt in my life. There is a collective intention for healing and finding strength in the community classes.

I often joke with my therapist saying that I think I am addicted to Aquatics Therapy classes. She responded with there are worse things you can be addicted to.

There is freedom as I move through water with mindful movements.

It's hard for me to believe it's been a year since I first experienced Aquatics Therapy. I had no expectations when I began the program. I didn't even know that I would become a fixture of the Tuesday and Wednesday classes. I'm glad that I stayed with the program even when it meant getting up in the dark at 6:15 am in the middle of the Polar Vortex or walking out into the darkness of evening being greeted by a blast of frigid air.

It's been a joy filled, challenging and fulfilling journey with wonderful results. I continue to build strength and experience healing and transformation, grace and ease in my physicality. Happy Swimiversary to me with deepest gratitude to my therapists and to Spaulding Rehab for the gift of this program in my life.




"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.



Monday, September 1, 2014

Sweet Seven Miles!

When I trained for the 2010 Tufts 10K, my beloved coach Domenick D'Amico suggested that I have at least one 7 mile run in the books. I knew yesterday was the day to go farther than the 10K distance. Tom is running the Around the Cape 25K today. Since yesterday was his rest day, he offered to be my support crew for my longest run since 2010.

Jamaica Pond is always my go to place when I need a good training run. I can feel Bill Rodgers' presence when I run around Jamaica Pond, the beautiful and sacred sweet spot he used to train for his Boston Marathon runs. It's a mix of shade and sun, runners, walkers, dogs, ducks, rocks, trees, tree roots, uphills, downhills and flat parts of the course that winds around Jamaica Pond.

Tom dropped me off, parked the car and found a shady spot on a bench.

I wasn't concerned about time. I wanted to see how my body felt going a longer distance than I had in 3 years. I have a PR playlist and recently added the Rocky Theme and We are the Champions by Queen. I used the time to visualize my running of the Tufts 10K. When I went to buy a new pair of my Altra 1.5 which I have been wearing since last year, I was really concerned that they were no longer making them. I get very nervous about changing shoes but the 2.0 Altra and in pink no less provided a lot of cushion and support as I journeyed 5 times around Jamaica Pond. Oh and if anyone is interested, it's 1.47 miles/lap.

There have been some challenging situations in my life as of late and I was really in a quandry of what direction to go in to diminish the stress I was experiencing. I told Tom after my 2nd time around that I needed to get this feeling of a brick off of my back. As I picked up my pace and allowed the magic and medicine of running do its thing, the solution that had been evading me became crystal clear. I couldn't wait to get back to my water stop to share my insight with him.

He said he would go the last two laps with me saying it would be a good warm up for today's race.

We also "picked off" walkers and runners in front of us as Tom encouraged me to do some fartleks. I was amazed at how much I still had left in the tank.

When we got home, I took an ice bath and knew that my reward of a spinach feta croissant from Saturday's road trip to Gloucester along with my chicken leftovers from The Abbey were waiting for me.

I hadn't felt the way I felt yesterday in my body since training for the 2009 Boston Marathon. I was hungry yet full and satisfied. I was tired and invigorated. I had a runner's high and I felt peaceful, happy and content.

My lunch tasted delicious and we fixed a chocolate smoothie to refuel.

A part of me got the endurance running bug again feeling like I could definitely train for a half marathon but right now I am thrilled with going the distance at the Tufts 10K in 6 weeks. Tom helped me to map out my training plan as we set our sights on my PR body and conditions willing.

I run for me now. I run for health. I run to feel that indescribable feeling in my body that comes with a seven mile run. I run to discover what's possible for me now and I run to push the edge of the envelope. I run to experience clarity and calm, exhilaration and wonder. I run because it is a part of who I am. I am so blessed to be able to run and to have the opportunity to express my life through my running. Sweet seven miles. It was great to feel you again.




"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Sights and Sounds of the Sea - Medicine for the Soul

Tom and I hadn't been back to Gloucester and Rockport in several years. He is running the Around the Cape 25K tomorrow and we decided to make a day trip out of number pick up. That's the great thing about being a runner; not only do you have the excitement of races but you can create day trips and vacations around the road race.

I have always loved the ocean. After my nephew ended his life in March of 2011 by jumping off his fishing boat, the sea didn't hold the same charm and comfort for me -- until yesterday. What a pleasure to see a place we would often visit through new eyes.

There is a small beach we used to frequent at the end of the walk way where the statue of the Gloucester Fisherman stands.



We thought that would be a wonderful place to relax and then walk into town to have lunch after number pick up. It was too windy to sit on the beach so we enjoyed time on the soft grass on the walk way overlooking the ocean where we we had a little insulation from the wind.

We allowed the ocean to become our meditation object.



I felt blessed by my nephew's presence as I reflected on the words on the Gloucester Fisherman Statue: "They that go down to the sea in ships."

For the first time since his death, I felt healed and could take deep breaths once again enjoying the majesty, magic and mysticism of the sea.



Tom and I have weathered many, many storms in our 36 years of marriage. It was a joy and a delight to experience yesterday's brilliant sunshine and calm and peace in the moments that made up our day.

Since it wasn't a beach day, we decided to head up to Bearskin Neck.



We poked in and out of the shops known to showcase local artist's talents. I saw this on display outside of one shop:


My nephew's sister, my niece posts that on her facebook page on his birthday in December and on the anniversary of his death. I smiled knowing that his physicality may be gone but he is right here in my heart.

After our obligatory ice cream treat - and I mean treat since we have ice cream maybe once or twice a year, we set up our chairs at the tip of Bearskin Neck watching sailing, kayaking, stand up paddle board surfers and enjoying the rhythm of the sea and tourists come and go.



Before we left Cape Ann, we stopped by Helmut's Streudel. It was so tempting to bring home streudel or their cookies but we opted for a spinach and feta croissant to have for my post long run on Sunday:



The sights and sounds of the sea in a town known for its fishermen was medicine for my soul helping to bring peace and closure to a wound of grief.




"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.





Friday, August 29, 2014

Gaining Momentum-It's Only a Bump in the Road

"Why don't you get on your helmet and we'll put you on this bike today. We don't have the one you used last week today," Ali Stoll, Ph.D. and coordinator of the Adaptive Sports Program at Spaulding Rehab suggested at yesterday's adaptive sports program.

Caitlyn from AccesSportAmerica helped fit me with my helmet.

They adjusted the seat on the recumbent bike to accommodate my long legs and Ali suggested using a band to secure my feet to the pedals. They were back in a flash with therabands. I was intrigued by how they were able to make a sling for my feet to secure them to the pedals. I gave it a test drive to make sure everything was comfortable and off we went.

This was the second Thursday that the forecast was for rain but the sky was a beautiful blue with puffy white clouds. There was a strong wind which we used to our advantage when it was at our backs. I was amazed at how at ease I felt riding this week. I was mindful and attentive while feeling a comfort being on the bike thoroughly enjoying experiencing this new found skill of mine.

We talked about running, races, and life. We went farther than last week and there was a slope in the sidewalk. Ali reassured me that it was perfectly safe to ride down the incline and encouraged me to have fun along the way. We rode to where the USS Constitution is docked. Ali checked in with me to see if I needed to rest and to see when I was ready to turn around. I suggested we do the "turn around" at the Constitution. (Every year on July 4th, the USS Constitution does its annual turnaround.)

What comes down must go up so that meant I would have to get back up that slope we rode down on our ride out. I instinctively picked up speed as we approached the slope and almost made it to the top. I slid back down. Ali said that she wanted me to really push and would only help me once I absolutely needed it. I gained momentum and made it as far as I could and told her, "Now" letting her know I couldn't push beyond that point to make it over the slope. She said all I needed was a little extra push.

The ride back was relaxing and enjoyable. The more I biked, the more I enjoyed the feeling of maneuvering the bike and feeling a sense of empowerment and strength.

We approached the bump in the road that had stopped me cold last week. As Ali mentioned that it was coming up, I gained momentum and without hesitation made it up and over.

It's funny how one week, something seems like an insurmountable obstacle but when we figure out what we can do to gain momentum, feel our strength and believe in our abilities, that insurmountable obstacle becomes merely a bump in the road. I carry this new found confidence and strength with me into the final 6 weeks of training for the Tufts 10K.




"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.





Thursday, August 28, 2014

Healing Waters - Then and Now - A Flashback to Badger Day Camp



The heat and pushing myself hard in training were "kicking my butt" this week. I probably would have been best served by taking a rest day on Monday but I got in my miles and took it nice and slow. I took a rest day on Tuesday and was still feeling tired going into Wednesday Find Your Aquatics Strength Class at Spaulding Rehab but once I got into the pool, I could feel the fatigue melt away. We had some free swim time before everyone arrived. I enjoyed that time to take time to do what my body needed to feel revived.

Our therapist put us through our paces including a new exercise to help us with balance.

"If it was easy, you wouldn't be here," she offered and reminded us this was a hard exercise. "Don't get frustrated. It's okay."

I was realizing the profound difference between my right and left sides. She offered a modification to accommodate the difference in my two sides.

After we did our circuit she asked if we wanted to go for a swim and handed out kick boards. Coincidentally, our therapist had been a camp counselor.

I told her I was having a flashback - a very happy flashback to when I was at Badger Day Camp.

Badger was a camp for all abilities. After one unsuccessful try at Day Camp, my physiatrist who was working with me after I contracted paralytic polio suggested Badger which had swimming at the center of its daily activities.

Its history dates to 1945 ...

Badger Day Camp was founded in 1945 by Ruth and Jack Collins. Jack and Ruth had been operating programs for kids under the Badger name throughout Westchester County and they were ready to find a permanent location for their Badger programs. After some searching, Badger found a home at 119 Rockland Ave, Larchmont, NY and Badger Day Camp was born. Since then, the Collins family has been running the day camp and have continued the founding philosophy of offering a wide variety of quality programs for kids, in a fun and safe environment, for over 60 years!

At the heart of our campus is an Olympic sized pool. Campers get to jump in twice daily. Pool time is split between instruction and free swim to ensure a ton of fun every day! Before and after camp hours, the pool is often filled with our Badger Swim Team, led by internationally recognized Swim Coach, John Collins Jr. who has produced Olympians, American and National record holders and world champions all who have come out of this pool! It is not unusual for campers to catch a glimpse, or even meet, some of our former or current team members, especially during our swim demo days.


I was blessed to have Joseph Stetz as my swimming counselor. He chose to not follow his dream to become an Olympian and instead became a physician. I'm sure he blessed many lives in his career. Joseph gave me the support and encouragement I needed to compete in the butterfly during the Camp Olympics. I write about him in my post, "The Courage to Start." He told me that there were only two other campers willing to compete in the heat and if I didn't compete, they would have to cancel the race. At first I was reluctant to compete but he assured me he would coach me and train me for the event. He took individual time with me to teach me how to jump off the starting block and do turns in the pool. I didn't know it at the time, but he was also training me mind, body and Spirit and that training would hold me in good stead as I faced the challenge of post polio syndrome in my later years. Every time I have the courage to step up to a starting line, I think of Joseph. I just now decided that I am going to dedicate my Tufts 10K race to him.

He died in a single car accident shortly after his retirement from St. Elizabeth's Hospital right here in Brighton. As the synchronicity of my life would have it, I worked at St. E's as a geriatric social worker on the inpatient psych unit when he worked there as a cardiothoracic surgeon. We could have passed each other in the halls.

And last night as I took the kick board and did laps, the feeling of freedom and joy I can feel so easily in the water, returned to my mind, body and soul. I remembered my days at Badger that provided a healing balm to all that I had been through in my 10 short years of living. Although I could only spend two summers at Badger because the following year I had to go into a full leg cast on my right leg, those memories live on in my heart forever. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, I am blessed to return to healing waters where I find my strength, my freedom and my joy in Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab.




"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.









Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Obsession With Running

"The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life." - Dr. George Sheehan



I love running and when I am not running, I spectate or I volunteer or share in the accomplishments of my running friends on Facebook. I have devoured books about running, runners biographies, the history of the Boston Marathon and have two more in queue after I finish reading Johnny Kelley's "Young at Heart." I read on line articles about running.

My obsession with running began after I wrote the poem "Running the Race" as I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair for mobility at times and feeling the worst in mind, body and Spirit that I ever felt in my life.

Running did not and does not come easily to me. The first time I ever ran for 30 seconds, at the age of 54 years old, shortly after coming out of my leg brace, my heart rate soared over 170.

For a moment I believed that I had no business running when I ran the Marathon Sports 5 Miler in July of 2008 as I began training for the 2009 Boston Marathon. But Tom and my Marathon Sports family gave me the boost I needed to believe in myself as a runner.

Running is in my soul now.

My heart breaks for that little 5 year old, when I think back to when I was in a full leg brace after contracting paralytic polio and desperately trying to keep up with my brother and my friends.

Running is my form of redemption.

When I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon, it was a moment bigger than I was yet it was also my personal moment of redemption.

A few weeks ago, I was obsessed with seeing if I could achieve a PR at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk to Benefit Prostate Cancer. Talk about a moment of redemption and experiencing the fullness of my life after taking a detour off my healing path in 2011. What a blessing to be able to inspire others to move beyond a diagnosis or a condition and see what they are capable of doing when put to the test on and off the roads.

I am training for the Tufts 10K and am eager to see what this body can do on race day. After Tufts it's training for the Feaster Five on Thanksgiving Day.

The sport of running is one of the only sports I know of where you can stand shoulder to shoulder and run on the same road as the running greats. I have been blessed to receive support, encouragement and advice from Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Greg Meyer, Dave McGillivray and the inspirational Hoyts just to name a few.

There is an energy in the running community that is the energy of life itself. My obsession with running was borne out of a time in my life when I faced a grim diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular condition. It has become my therapy, my medicine and the vehicle for bringing me from the precipice of decline to the fullness of my life.





"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.







Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Tales of One City - Labor Day Weekend in Boston

The year was 1971 just about a month after my dad ended his life. My brother packed up the car with me and a couple of his friends and we drove to 700 Commonwealth Avenue also known as "The Zoo" back in the day as I entered my freshman year at Boston University.



I had a roommate from hell, well actually she was from Long Island, who had arrived before me. With her perfect pink manicured hands she decorated my half of our dorm room complete with plastic flowers pinned to my bulletin board. I'm sure she thought I was the roommate from hell as I cried unpacking my things and did not express gratitude to her that she had taken the time to decorate my half of the room and line the drawers of my dresser. She got the R.A., the Resident Assistant who was wonderful. I told her what happened and she told me that I could go to the Counseling Center on Tuesday. A group of us went out to eat at Ken's Steak House in Copley Square. My roommate from hell had decided that I just had to do something with my hair before we went out to eat though and didn't I have any make up to put on? What a start to my Boston adventure. I had the chef's salad with Russian Dressing. There was a familiar taste of New York comfort food that got me through until Tuesday.

Every year at this time the permanent residents of Boston begin to grumble. I used to grumble - a lot and bemoan the end of summer heralded by U Haul lined streets and students flooding "my city." The anniversary reaction of that Labor Day weekend now 43 years ago haunted me with a melancholy that began the week before Labor Day and continued well through the winter months.

While the residents of Boston grumble, the students arrive with equal parts eager anticipation and trepidation. Freshmen, after being at the top of the hill as high school seniors now feel that sense of smallness and uncertainty as they enter their new academic careers. Those returning to their campus home away from home are excited to be reunited with friends and classmates eager to regale their tales of summer. There is a bustle of activity that once used to annoy me but that now fills me with hope.

Rather than feel resentment and frustration over these next few weeks, I'll be sure to leave extra time to get from point A to point B as the population of our fair city swells. Tom and I will go to Gloucester on Saturday to pick up his bib for the Around the Cape 25K he is running on Monday. Sunday we will be sure to not cross the divide into the land of the students at Cleveland Circle and anything we need to do we will do on this side of Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue.

Even though I arrived in Boston as a freshmen with a heavy heart and over a decade of challenges with paralytic polio and domestic violence, I had a sense of hope that there was a life beyond what I had lived. Even through all of the pain and suffering, confusion and different paths I traveled, I kept that spark of hope alive. I am so glad I did so that I could arrive here now poised to enjoy Labor Day weekend joining together with the energy of hope as a new academic year, as a new season begins.

Boston may be two tales of one City over Labor Day Weekend but once the crazed frenzy of the weekend subsides, we settle into a rhythm that hopefully will yield an amazing harvest in the years to come.





"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.





Monday, August 25, 2014

As The Seasons Change





I remember greeting my massage therapist at Sollievo as the first days of warmer weather arrived. "We survived the winter," I said. We both laughed saying that we seem to say that every year after a New England Winter. In essence we were saying, "how could we do anything other than make it through the winter?"

It's been over 5 months since I began the next miles on my healing journey at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork. So much wonderful healing is happening within me, mind, body and Spirit.

I notice a change in the way I am experiencing the change of seasons this year as we transition from summer to fall.

My facebook feed is filled with first day of school photos, my friends who are teachers posting about their return to work and saying farewell to summer vacation.

I can no longer have breakfast in my yard because the sun arrives later on my lawn.

But I can now appreciate the change in lighting and set up my office outside as soon as the sun warms up the day. I enjoy cooler weather runs yet runs when I do not yet have to put on layers.

And I have a choice about how I experience the change in seasons.

As a retiree, I was in rhythm with others during summer as the pace of life was slower and people had more free time. When the calendar turned from August to September, I would find myself panicking and scrambling to put things in place that would keep me busy and have a feeling of purpose.

Not this year though.

How do I choose to embrace life as the seasons change?

Running and training for the Tufts 10K, Aquatics Therapy, and taking advantage of the many wonderful opportunities through Adaptive Sports at Spaulding. Writing, reading, spending times with friends on Facebook and in real life. I now know that this time I take for healing is precious, purposeful time that allows me to age well as the season of my life changes. I can allow myself to Be.

I have some wonderful events coming up that fill my heart with joy but that do not require intensive labor on my part. Tom and I are learning how to create a sense of mindful retirement even though he needs to continue to work to support us financially. I can accept my need for retirement and I can accept his need to continue to work. I am deeply grateful to him and for a job with excellent pay and benefits. In technology these days, it's unusual to have a job you can, for the most part, leave when you leave work for the day. It was a very challenging transition to find a job that would give us the opportunity to have the lifestyle we want as we move into the autumn of our lives but we were blessed to have found it!

I am no longer rescuing anyone or anything as I did last year trying to "sell" Boston Integrated Body, the new business created by the person I was working with in KMI Structural Integration. As a trauma survivor, I wasn't able to discern what was right and true for my healing. As was the title of my 2nd grade class play, "Every Season Has a Reason". I had to go through that pattern one more time of trying to rescue someone from themselves and sacrificing my own needs to try to save someone else.

I heal from the trauma of two suicides and put down the blame, shame, guilt and sense of responsibility for anyone else's life but my own.

There is nothing I have to do and nowhere I need to arrive. I am blessed and grateful at long last for this time in my life where I can honor my time and need for healing from the effects of paralytic polio and violence, while living a full, vibrant and enjoyable life. And this year as the seasons change, I shall embrace all the wonderful changes within myself that now allow me to be a part of the rhythm of life enjoying the beauty and majesty of every season.




"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Support Crew and Still Boston Strong

When L Street posted that they needed support crew for the Fall Marathon training long runs, I raised my hand ahem I clicked my mouse and said I'd be delighted to be support crew again for marathon training.

What a difference being support crew in the summertime. Three bags of ice and coolers along with plenty of water and Gatorade are on the supply list. We had a lobster pot that we've never cooked lobsters in but made for a great way to keep beverages cold.

Our water stop was just as runners exited the beautiful Emerald Necklace and were going to cross over Park Drive to Boston University and continue their run along the Charles River.

I always bring the cue sheet for the run because there is always at least one person who needs to take a look at the directions.

We arrived early and set up our table:



We sat back and relaxed in the beautiful morning sun while waiting for the first runners to arrive.

I love being there to ask runners how their run is going, what they need for fueling and to stay cool and to talk about what they are training for.

Many of us know each other but we don't have to know each other or each other's names. There is a universal language and sense of community among runners.

I love when I am out on the race course feeling the thrill of running for a PR as I did a few weeks ago at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk for Prostate Cancer but I also love serving runners, supporting runners on their quest to be their best; setting and attaining goals.

A small group of runners approached the table. I made eye contact with one of the runners and we looked into each other's eyes.

"Hey didn't I meet you at the Cambridge 5 Miler?"

It was Leo Foseca from Stephi's who was wearing a survivor shirt and just happened to be standing by our car after the Marathon Sports Cambridge 5 Miler. He joined L Street but this was his first long run with the club. He is training for the NYC Marathon. We went to Stephi's after visiting the Boston Marathon Memorial shortly before the running of the 2014 Boston Marathon.

"Team MR8 asked me if I would run for them. How could I say no."

Even though the events of 4/15/13 are now a distant memory, we still feel its echoes whenever we run and gather together. On the back of my L Street Club t shirt there is the Boston Strong ribbon with the words We Run As One.

We heal together. We run together. We celebrate sparkly Sweaty Bands and support our fellow runners when they are having a slog run. We offer cold water and ice, pretzels and swedish fish along with a high five, a fist pump, a warm smile and words of encouragement. We appreciate each other now more than ever. It is always an honor for me to be support crew whether we are huddled together in winter's polar vortex or helping runners to stay cool at the height of summer. We are and will always be Boston Strong and L Street Strong.




"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Freedom and Solitude

I decided that I need to run the 2014 Tufts 10K on my own. I want to have the opportunity to run my own race. It's something I need to do for me and it's coming from the depths of my soul. So today, knowing that I need to and want to run the race alone, I set out on my training run prepared as I will be prepared on race day with fuel belt, a Luna bar for mid race fueling and a heart, mind and body focused on a PR from the last Tufts 10K I ran in 2010. My friend Gail Martin, a seasoned runner, always adds, conditions and body willing.

I simulated race day by parking near the T stop and walking over and around the Boston Common to warm up. I headed over to the starting line and off I went. I stopped where the water stops will be. I kept a strong and steady pace running from the inside out. There were moments when no one else was on the sidewalk. With the spectacular view of the Charles River on my left, I felt a sense of expansiveness and solitude.

There were times when I did a little bit of speed work by passing pedestrians and there were times when my body said, "Whoa girl. Slow down. You did a tempo run on Monday. Aquatics on Tuesday and Thursday you rode a bike outdoors for the first time and had your first bike riding lesson."

I took advantage of the downhills and the shade.

I visualized and experienced race day in my mind's eye.

Occasionally, I glanced at my pace and my time but know the importance of listening to my body. I remembered to focus on keeping the connection with my left leg so that my right leg doesn't get overused and injured. I was able to experience the benefits of Thursday's bike riding session. I wanted to see how close I could come to my time to beat for a PR of 1:36:10. I finished with a time today of 1:37:47. That's the best time I have run out on the Tufts 10K course and my best 10K time since I began training in June.

While I love the time spent with others when I run, there is something precious about running alone; especially as I find my own pace, my stride and have to be in solitude with my thoughts. Today's training run was a powerful moving meditation for me as I felt connected to myself and connected to something far greater than myself. It was a time to continue to heal from paralytic polio and trauma.



I enjoyed the silence and I enjoyed my own company. I enjoyed the freedom and the solitude of 6.2 miles along one of my favorite parts of Boston. The Tufts 10K is still seven weeks away but I know it will be here before we know it. I'll be ready to run the race in freedom and solitude among the thousands of runners and spectators. And when I cross the finish line seeing a time better than 1:36, body and conditions willing, I will celebrate with my husband, my daughter and my friends crossing another finish line of the miles in my personal marathon of healing.



"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.





Friday, August 22, 2014

My First Bike Ride and My First Bike Riding Lesson!



"Would you like to learn how to ride a two wheeler or try a three wheeler to start," Nate Berry asked me at the Weingarten Adaptive Sports Center at Spaulding Rehab in Charlestown.

I wasn't anticipating the possibility of trying out a two-wheeler and said that I would go with a three-wheeler for now.

Ali Stoll, DPT, the physical therapist who is the director of the Adaptive Sports Center at Spaulding, greeted me warmly. Everyone greeted everyone warmly. There were maybe a half dozen or so patients and a dedicated, energetic, warm, welcoming staff from AccesSportAmerica Ali went to get me a top of the line recumbent bike while Nate fitted me with a bicycle helmet. While I was anxious about what was in store for me on my first outdoor biking adventure, the staff's confidence, joy and enthusiasm put me at ease.

I did not know that the staff ratio is at least 1:1 for the adaptive sports program. At least a one on one staff ratio for $20 for a 90 minute session and no one is ever turned away because of their inability to pay. I was blessed to have Nate and Ali and two other staffers from AccesSportAmerican accompany me on my inaugural bike ride along the scenic trail with the view of Boston and the Boston Harbor before me.

Yesterday I wrote about my new normal. Well I felt "normal" as we rode bikes (Nate was on a skateboard because there were no bikes left) and talked just as friends do when they go out to enjoy a beautiful late summer's day in Boston. Ali was clear in her use of language that I was not on an adaptive bike; I was using a recumbent bike which people of all abilities use.



I felt exhilaration to feel myself biking and learning how to navigate on a recumbent bike. I surprised myself by how I allowed myself to experience the thrill trusting in my ability to use the brakes if I needed them. I was concerned about whether or not I would have the stamina to bike for almost an hour but the conversation and the support and encouragement from Nate and Ali made it easy for me. They checked in with me from time to time making sure nothing hurt and I was doing okay but other than for those brief moments, I did not feel like a patient or a polio survivor. I was experiencing myself in my body trying out a new sport. And that is the whole point of the Adaptive Sports Program and AccesSportAmerica.

"How is your balance on one leg?" Ali asked as we were heading back to where we began our bike ride.

"Not great. I work on balance and core strength in Aquatics."

"Which leg is stronger right or left?"

"Definitely right."

On our way back there was a steep incline. Nate and Ali told me to push, push. Push with your left leg but I couldn't push any harder even harnessing my core. Nate helped to lift me over the incline. Ali almost got stuck as well and said, "It's harder than it looks." We laughed. And even though I needed to feel the security of having my feet strapped in, needed support when I stood up after riding, I transcended the feelings of awkwardness and any doubts about my ability in my body. This is the way I am and everything is more than okay with how I am.

Throughout the entire bike ride I felt joyful and at ease having total trust and confidence in my body knowing that Nate and Ali were there to guide and support me if I needed assistance.

"We have ten minutes left when we get back. Would you like to try the two wheeler? Ali and I will spot you," Nate said. Ali and Nate have this wonderful ability to encourage my abilities while helping me to feel supported. No time like the present to try something I'd never done before.

A group from AccesSportAmerica gathered around. Nate talked me through the steps to getting on the bike and provided me with basic education about learning how to ride a bike. Ali supported me with the watchful and encouraging eye and heart of a physical therapist. One of the staff members from AccesSportAmerica took this video.



There was a woman with a Spaulding ID badge watching us. She beamed and smiled; her eyes lit up as she nodded acknowledging what I was doing. The wound of being left in the dust while all of my friends ran off and played riding their bikes, and being jeered, teased and taunted was healed. I felt whole and perfect; strong and courageous and beautiful at 60 years old. There is powerful medicine through the eyes of compassion and support and encouragement that come from understanding hearts grounded in knowledge. And there is powerful medicine in bike riding. As an added bonus, my hips are stronger and more open, my quads are stronger and my knees feel amazing. I feel more connections flowing from my spinal cord to my lower body and know that I nourished new neuromuscular connections throughout yesterday's adventure.

Ali and Nate offered to continue working with me, but I could feel my body was fatigued and my neuromuscular system had tapped out from all the wonderful stimulation I provided today with these amazing new experiences. Since I am just back to running and training for Tufts, I am going to use the recumbent bike next week and put off learning how to ride a two wheeler - for now.

But look out world. It's on my bucket list for next year. And speaking of bucket lists which I didn't know I had until now, they have winter adaptive sports where they go skiing on the weekends. Stay tuned.....

On September 21, join Spaulding Rehab Hospital to celebrate and raise money for the Charles Weingarten Adaptive Sports Program at their Annual Set Sail Event. A portion of the money raised will be used to purchase another top of the line recumbent bike to give others the feeling of freedom and ability that I experienced (and will continue to experience) for years to come.

Spaulding has been a part of my healing journey since October of 2006. I am so blessed that with their love, support, skill and care, I have been able to find higher and higher ground in my journey of rehabilitation. Yesterday I soared to new heights with my first bike ride and my first bike riding lesson.



Rarely does the path to recovery follow a straight line
Like a tidal stream, it bends and twists
It surges and trickles
It ebbs and flows.
That is why rehabilitative care must be fluid too.
Spaulding takes an approach to patient care that is flexible, highly personal and informed by a deep understanding that while every patient strives to reach higher ground, no two rehabilitative journeys are ever alike.





"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.

I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.

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