Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Do It Now! Thoughts From The Comeback Kid

Yesterday on Facebook, Marathon Sports posted:

What are your fitness goals? Whether it's attempting your first run or training to BQ, there's no time like the present! #LETSDOTHIS #GOALBIG #INSPIRE

I commented:
NOW! Don't wait. #noexcuses And Marathon Sports will help you find everything you need to reach your goals. I went from polio shoes and a leg brace and using a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon with their help. Marathon Sports Brookline fitted me for my first pair of runner shoes -ever- in my life - at age 53. And they have been there with me through all of my ups and downs of living with a neuromuscular condition. Spring is a wonderful time for new beginnings, setting new goals and moving confidently in the direction of your dreams.

From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility:"

“Wait. I have one more goal.”

Janine stopped and turned around.

“I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I know they have a Race for Rehab team and I want to do it next year.”

Janine was non-plussed. I don’t know what kept her from turning tail and getting as far away from me as she could. She came back into my house and put down her things. She said that the first thing I would need is a pair of running shoes. She told me that Marathon Sports on Beacon Street would be able to help me. She laid out a cursory training plan and said that we would begin indoors to build up my cardio endurance. As soon as the weather got a little warmer, we’d go outdoors and I would learn how to run.

“What are you in now?” Spencer Aston asked me when I walked into Marathon Sports in February of 2008.

“Well, truth be told, I’m in ‘polio shoes.’ I borrowed these running shoes from my daughter. Let me give you the twitter version of my story.”

I told Spencer about my history of paralytic polio, my ‘remarkable recovery’ as was Spaulding’s tag line when I was a patient and how I was planning to run the Boston Marathon. He took so much time and care doing a gait assessment and working with me to find the perfect running shoes. We figured out that I needed an insert at my heel to ensure comfort.

I felt butterflies in my stomach as I waited for Janine having put on my cardiac monitor sporting a pair of sweat pants and a sweatshirt. I laugh now to think about how ill equipped I was in so many ways to begin marathon training. And not just any marathon – THE Boston Marathon.

When Janine showed up, we went outside on Eliot Street. She said that we were going to start out running for 30 seconds and walking for 2 minutes. Janine was so loving, gentle, patient and kind as she encouraged me to just let my body move in a gentle jog. We looked at my heart rate. It went up over 170! She told me that was okay. The high heart rate was a result of my deconditioning. But she was confident that I could do this!

What an amazing journey to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.

In October of 2009, I was cooked. I returned to outpatient physical therapy at Newton Wellesley Hospital Spine Center requiring a series of cervical spine injections and intensive outpatient therapy to build especially upper body and core strength. My therapist told me no running at least until the Spring of 2010.

I busted out when she cleared me for running and went on a running spree of trash talking and PR's.

In March of 2011, my nephew suicided and I experienced a relapse of symptoms. By the end of September of 2011, I hung up my running shoes for what I thought was for good. I didn't feel as though I had it in me to come back again.

But then 4/15/2013 happened....

I had to walk at a race walk pace to escape down Huntington Avenue to our car to what we hoped would be safety. (It was.)

We did the #onerun organized to help runners and the City heal after 4/15/13. I realized that I needed to get back into running. I had lost contact with a lot of my running friends but thanks to Facebook and email was able to reconnect with them. We rejoined L Street Running Club. It was as though I never left. I'd been "an honorary" member of the Merrimack Valley Striders Club and they welcomed me with open arms.

It didn't matter that my pace was slower and my distance was shorter. The motto of L Street is "No pace too slow. No distance too short." And they mean it!

I ran the Brookline Symphony Orchestra 5K and then the Feaster Five hosted by the Merrimack Valley Striders. I took a break from road races during the winter but I continued to train outdoors whenever possible.

My first road race was the Cambridge 5 Mile Run/3 Mile City Walk. I'm now registered for the Corrib Pub 5K which was the first race I ever ran back in June of 2008. The last time I ran it was on 6/5/2011. We are planning out our summer/fall road races.

I am training for the Tufts 10K which I last ran in 2010.

Twice a week Aquatics Therapy Classes at Spaulding Rehab help me to build my strength. I am wearing 3 pound ankle weights and can increase challenging myself by the depth of water I choose to work in. I will be excited when I strap on those 5 pound weights but know that I have to wait until the 3 pound weights are no longer a challenge for me.

I make sure I take my rest days and go for regular massage sessions at Sollievo Bodywork and Massage which incorporates the mind/body therapy of Zero Balancing into the session.

I am extremely mindful of working up to my edge but backing down when my body tells me to.

Today's message of healing, hope and possibility? Do It Now. #noexcuses And if you fall short of your goals, don't ever stop. And if you have to take a break from running, stay connected to the running community. And if you need healing, keep searching until you find a winning combination of what works best for you. And if you can no longer "run", walk and be a part of races where they welcome all ages and all abilities. Do It Now! and don't stop.

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