As I begin to plan my book launching party for "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" later this Spring
with Marathon Sports Brookline store manager, Ellen Gabriel, we decided it would be wonderful to plan it to coincide with the visit of my beloved coach and trainer, Domenick D'Amico. He made a promise at our first meeting of Spaulding Rehab's Race for Rehab team that he would get us to the starting line healthy and to the finish line with a smile.
He was true to his word.
Domenick planned out our long training runs complete with pit stops and water stops. He called the Wellesley Marathon Sports store to let them know we would be stopping there on our long run and to provide us with anything we needed. He was my champion letting me know that I would be able to finish the Boston Marathon.
Here he is sending us off on our last training run from the Marathon Sports Brookline store before Marathon Monday:
The Race for Rehab Team in Hopkinton:
and here I am at the finish line - smiling through tears of unbridled joy:
There is one story that I did not include in my memoir that I did share in my blog post, Getting a Head Start. We were at a fund raiser for Alison Eno-Ballbach who was the manager of Marathon Sports Brookline in 2009 and a champion of Team McManus. I call her my mother hen on the road to the Boston Marathon. I shared with Domenick that I was feeling really anxious about being able to finish before the finish line closed. He asked me, "Aren't you getting an early start?" I told him that we had thought about it but then thought that I did not meet the requirements of being a mobility impaired runner. He told me I did. The next day he called his contact at the BAA and told me that all I needed was a letter from my post polio doc to submit to the BAA to get an early start with the mobility impaired runners.
What relief I felt knowing that I would not have to wait for 2 1/2 hours in Hopkinton and that I would be able to enjoy my marathon day knowing I would make it to the finish line before it closed.
And on Marathon Monday he waited for us on Heartbreak Hill. As I said in my Acknowledgements:
Domenick D’Amico, beloved coach and trainer with the Race for Rehab Team, you promised to get us to the starting line healthy and to the finish line with a smile. You kept your promise. Thank you for mapping out our training runs every week and for standing on Heartbreak Hill waiting for us. The hug you gave me as you said, “Go get your medal” is forever imprinted on my heart.
Domenick was also a part of my Poetry in Motion celebration at Marathon Sports Brookline.
I feel so blessed and incredibly grateful that I will be able to celebrate the release of my memoir with Domenick by my side. Even though he lives in Colorado, his Spirit lives on in Boston. I often overhear conversations in Marathon Sports of people reminiscing about the Run Club when Domenick was in Boston. He was back in Boston for the 2010 Boston Marathon. We met on Heartbreak Hill that year. He told me that he struck up a conversation with a woman who told him she could never run a marathon. He told her my story beaming as he recalled how he got us to the starting line healthy and to the finish line with a smile.
He has been my beloved coach and trainer throughout these 5 years supporting me as I was on and off the roads letting me know that wherever I was was exactly where I needed to be.
In honor of National Poetry Month, I will be featuring poems I wrote on my road to the Boston Marathon which are included in A Celebration of Life.
Marathon Metamorphosis - May 7, 2008
Pounding pavement, feeling strength the journey now begun
training for the race of my life a 26.2 mile run.
Feeling God in every step in every beat of my heart
I undertake this challenge as a new chapter of my life I start.
I ran around in circles carrying baggage by the ton,
destination was survival hardened shell let in no one.
Fear and worry doubts prevailed, adrenaline in my veins
a headless horseman running wild no one to take the reins.
Stopping in my tracks I froze no longer could I move -
clawing, fighting had to cease there was nothing more to prove.
God's grace touched like a magic wand, a softness and a glow
emerging from a troubled past my blood began to flow.
Loving teachers lit the way their love a healing balm -
focusing on who I am now brings a sense of calm.
Stretching every muscle feeling God in every cell
wholeness now a blessing out of prison - no more hell.
The race is still a year away each day my dream I see
mind, body, spirit tuning turning toward the Voice of Thee.
Flexing what had once been stiff to brace against the pain
old habits die and I'm reborn to write a new refrain.