My first blog title for today was Don't Quit. I prefer to use language that is positive and decided to use the theme moving forward. I saw this in my Facebook feed this morning:
In June of 2008, I ran the Corrib Pub Run, my first 5K road race ever. It was an amazing experience and I knew that I was on my journey on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon. In July, we ran the Marathon Sports 5 Miler. It was an evening race. It was hot and humid and it was a fast field. We got lost on our way to the race which did not bode well for setting a positive vibe for the run. I was nervous to say the least on all fronts. I knew we were going to finish last but what was more of a challenge was the journey to get to the finish line. Thoughts of being left while others ran away from me when I was in a leg brace after contracting paralytic polio flooded me along with every imaginable negative thought I could conjure up about myself and my having the notion that I would ever run the 2009 Boston Marathon.
Tom suggested that I look at the beautiful trees, the houses, enjoy the quiet of the back streets in Weston. He would have me run from one landmark to the next and then we'd take a walking break. He helped me to breathe. As I write this, I realize that he was my labor coach during that run as I was struggling to give birth to me as a runner transforming out of a sedentary lifestyle that resulted in chronic disease.
From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":
Our first 5 mile race was the Marathon Sports 5 miler. It was a hot, steamy evening in July. We got lost on the way to the race. Tempers were running as hot as the thermometer because I was so anxious about running my first five mile race. My energy tended to wane by the evening as I was continuing to deal with the late effects of paralytic polio. We finally arrived and walked around trying to enjoy the pre race festivities. As everyone took their place at the start, I could see that this was a serious, competitive running crowd; quite a contrast to my first race ever, the Corrib Pub Run 5K in June.
Runners went out fast and Tom, Ruth Anne and I were in the back of the pack with a few other people. Even they took off and I told Ruth Anne to go out ahead of us. I experienced my first (of many) marathon training meltdowns. I cried as I
shared with Tom all the memories of having kids take off and leave me behind that were bubbling to the surface. I was sweating and tired and hot. I couldn’t tell where my tears ended and sweat began. I told Tom I had no business training for the Boston Marathon. Tom was wonderful and he told me that I couldn’t quit. We would make it through this race and we would make it through every training run. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself. I did know, however, that if I didn’t finish that race, I would never make it to the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Alison gave me water and a high five out on the course. She was worried about me in the heat and wanted to make sure I was okay.
Despite finishing dead last, members of the Marathon Sports family who knew the story of Team McManus, had air horns and a truck on the field honking and blowing and cheering us on to the finish. Ruth Anne circled back around to bring us into the finish line. She was there at the finish line to give me a hug and celebrate my first 5 mile road race ever. I knew training for Boston was not going to be easy, but I knew I had what it was going to take to make it happen.
I carry this memory with me as I continue to build strength and return to the roads after a a two year running hiatus. Sometimes, I feel the marathoner within me rear up. I want to sign up for endurance races and I want to train for another marathon. But I know that is just not the right goal for me.
I move forward. My three+ mile runs are designed to include hills to build strength and endurance. I felt wonderful in my body during last week's 5 mile run around Jamaica Pond after hill training.
I work hard in Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab. Our therapist had me use two dumb bells to plank rather than a noodle. I've started doing aqua jogging laps with the dumb bells. I have a wider range of motion and can work much harder than when I started the program in September.
Every finish line is a starting line. When I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon, I crossed another starting line in my healing odyssey. I carry the lessons and blessings I learned along the way in my heart. I am blessed by the friends that I have made and continue to make in this marathon of life. One of the amazing lessons among so many lessons and blessings I learned along the way is to keep moving forward and believe that one way or another, we will find the strength needed to sustain us no matter what the outcome might be. As Kara Goucher so eloquently reminds us, "You can't rush progress..." but you can keep moving forward.