When my friend Gail Martin invited me to the Red Fox Runs series this year, I asked her what the field was like in the Father Bullock Charity Run Walk Shuffle. She told me it depends on who shows up and gave me the link to check out previous year's results. She told me to just come out and enjoy myself. Gail reminded me that I had the option to do the 2 mile walk.
I registered for the 5K without even checking the results but a few days before the race I needed to see what the field was like. The final finishers came in at over a 16:00 minute/mile pace. The two mile walk would have been a slam dunk for me. But something inside of me wanted the challenge of the 5K run. Because it was a small field, I was hoping that perhaps only 3 women in my age group would race which would mean a mention on Cool Running and an award. But most importantly for me, I did not want to settle.
I wanted to challenge myself. I have nothing to prove. I am a 2009 Boston Marathon finisher. I have certainly gone the distance on the roads and in my life but there's this indescribable feeling I experience in my soul that I need to keep pushing myself. It's for physical, emotional and spiritual well being.
Running in the evening compounds the challenge for me as my energy tends to wane by the evening. I made sure to sleep in on Sunday and hydrate. I was also recovering from my 6 hour volunteer shift at the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon and Festival. I am learning to trust in my body's ability to recover and heal while honoring that I do live with the late effects of having contracted paralytic polio at age 5.
Temperatures were in the 80's at 5:45pm, gun time. At the start, we were told to be careful out there and to hydrate. There would be a lot of support out there and if we needed help just ask. The announcer joked, "Please don't die on the course. Our insurance rates go up." I heeded his words as I listened to my body throughout the race feeling the effects of the heat and taking hydration, dumping water on my head to help regulate my body temperature.
For a moment or two at the start I was wondering if I made the right choice to run the 5K.
I did not know the course. But I did know I had Gail's phone number so if anything went awry, I could always give her a call. Her husband David was the race director, a firefighter and an EMT and I needed to just trust in him and in myself. Besides Team McManus was reunited for this race and I knew everything would be okay if I could just leave my doubts at the starting line!
We took pre race selfies with Gail:
And the race photographer took this family photo:
Here I am at the start channeling my inner Bill Rodgers with a thumbs up:
And photos from the starting line:
The air horn went off and so did we.
I felt wonderful in my body and was able to run as opposed to race walking. I knew I needed to keep a nice steady pace. It was awesome to see the lead truck and the pack up ahead. Tom and Ruth Anne told me that there were plenty of people behind us encouraging me to keep up this pace.
My breathing was hard and I went all out to give this race my best effort. We agreed to not check the miles or the pace on my Nike+ during the race but to stay focused on running and enjoying being together.
By mile 2, I was feeling my heat and the pace. The walkers were no longer behind us. We could no longer see the lead truck. Even though the water stop was getting ready to clean up, they waited for us with water and words of encouragement. At mile 2 the volunteer said, "You're almost there. There's nothing to do but to finish."
I was pushing myself hard-race walking. I know that I could have taken more breaks or slowed down my pace but I wanted to get to the finish line. The only person to beat was myself. Tom and Ruth Anne were wonderful encouraging me every step of the way making sure I was okay. I dug deep.
We knew there was a lake coming up on the course. What a beautiful scene unfolded before us and we knew we were getting close. A police officer on a motorcycle asked if I was okay. Tom told him that I contracted paralytic polio at age 5 and it's a miracle that I was out there running and yes I was fine. He told us to not worry about a thing. He would get us safely to the finish line. He had a call to attend to someone who overheated and told us he'd be back.
When he returned, he gave us a warning for running in the street and not staying on the sidewalk with a wonderful smile. He told me to finish strong.
I could see the finish and he began sounding his siren on the motorcycle just like they do for the lead runner in a race.
I gave it my all - one foot in front of the other - and was stunned to see that it was only 48 minutes on the finish clock. Everyone cheered as we came down the finish chute!
I thought I'd been out there for an hour and had been going really slowly. That's what heat and self doubt can produce. My pace according to Nike+ was 15:02 for mile 1; a pace I had not seen since before I began running last year after my 2 year running hiatus. Mile 2 was 15:13 and mile 3+ was 15:21 - overall pace on Nike+ was 15:15! The official time on Cool Running was 48:06 dead even with last week's performance at the Corrib Pub 5K. Pretty amazing I raced two weeks in a row!
And then it was time for a raffle and the Awards Ceremony. There were orange slices, bananas, chips, cake, water and protein drinks for post race fueling. The gym was filled with wonderful energy on this 10th anniversary of the Father Bullock Charity Race.
Ruth Anne won a $30 gift certificate to Marathon Sports.
And I took 2nd in my new age group of 60-69 years old. Okay so there was only one other female in my age group but no matter. I chose to take the challenge of running the 5K and was given a sweet reward for my efforts:
Fortunately, Ruth Anne had done research and found a wonderful place to go for post race fun and food, the Halfway Cafe in Canton. We had a table outside and I felt as though I were on this wonderful vacation. My stomach had settled from my effort and I was hungry!
The air was cooling off so I layered in race t shirts
and devoured a black bean burger with cole slaw.
Tom will be finishing out the Red Fox Run Series with the Run Around the Cape 25K in Gloucester on Labor Day which benefits the North Shore YMCA.
Now that I am able to do a 15 minute mile for a 5K and now that I have rediscovered that I have what it takes to get the job done, I am getting ready to take on the Tufts 10K in October. I'll be increasing my distance to 6 miles, working on strength training in Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab and speed in shorter distance runs. Regular massage treatment at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork with Zero Balancing support me in my journey helping me to heal mind and body and creating a space for my Spirit to thrive!
And I wasn't planning on running any more races before Tufts but now we are registered for the Inaugural Bill Rodgers 5K at Boston College on August 10th and the Boston.com Island Run on September 28th. (I opted for the 5K on this one). I do ask ahead of time if it is an all ages, all abilities race before I register. I am discovering there are more and more events that welcome all ages and all abilities.
This morning I woke up feeling energized and sore. I can't seem to stop smiling to realize that I placed second in my age group having left nothing on the roads in Sharon and excited for my race schedule.
My memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" is now available on Amazon.
"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.