Thursday, June 26, 2014

Running Family-We Run Together

We were standing in the ballroom at the Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis on the eve of the 2009 Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. I had butterflies as I anticipated running my first half marathon in a race. I'd gone the distance in terms of putting in the miles but had not run a half marathon in a race. I stood beside Olympic Gold Medalist Frank Shorter and four time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers waiting to get their autographs. But I would also meet someone who would bring me into the fold of the running family that meant far more than the autographs I was about to receive.

Frank Shorter talked about doping in sports during the pre race pasta dinner festivities. Ric Beaudoin, a runner who had his own story of transformation through running, and member of both the L Street Running Club and Merrimack Valley Striders was waiting to ask Frank a question. Ric being Ric and me being me - both outgoing and talkative people, struck up a conversation.

After he heard what I was about to do, he introduced me to members of the Striders who he was with and told me he would have to get me to speak at his Club. He was moved and inspired by my story.

There was a reporter from the Cape Cod Times in the ballroom after the race. I boldly went up to him and shared my story despite feeling slightly hypothermic and nauseous from ignoring my pacing and fueling plan during the last 3 miles of the race when it began to sleet and snow.

Mary McManus, 55, of Brookline completed her first half-marathon after making a remarkable recovery from a life-long battle against post-polio syndrome.

She spent time at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and began running just last February. She competed in her first race in June 2008, finishing a 5K.

"It's like having a new lease on life," said McManus, who ran yesterday's half-marathon with husband Tom. "I was limping my way through life, but then decided to do something about it."

I spoke at the Striders meeting later that year and in 2010 when I was a guest speaker along with Steve Cooper of Boston's Channel 7 news.

After 4/15/13, the bonds in our running family grew closer than ever. We all realized how precious and fragile life is. What matters most are our relationships; the loving bonds that weave together to create the very fabric of life.

After this year's Boston Marathon, I kept saying to my Strider friends that I needed to get back for a meeting. Tom Licciardello told me that we are welcome any time. They meet in Lawrence which is a good 45 minute drive from Brookline. When I got the Facebook invitation about the meeting with the theme meeting old and new friends, I knew I needed to go.

Hugs, laughter and joy reverberated throughout the room. There was time for socializing and time for club business. The vice president, Al Stgermain welcomed new members, celebrated recent accomplishments of club members, and acknowledged and honored those who were injured and healing providing words of support and encouragement.

I was blessed to spend time with Marcie and Paul DiLorenzo. They have had a fantastic journey on and off of the roads. They were married at the Falmouth Road Race four months after 4/15/13 when we all needed something to celebrate. They are the proud parents of 3 boys. Everyone wanted a chance to see their latest edition, Radley aka Rad. Marcie posts the "daily smoosh" photos on facebook that always bring a sense of joy and clever comments.

Marcie and Paul wanted to get a picture of me holding Rad:

I took these photos of Tom holding the "smoosh" along with other photos that capture the feeling of a running family gathering together:

And here's a photo Paul took of "the smoosh with members of our running family"

We talked about mountains climbed and miles conquered. We talked about life's challenges that continue to be placed in front of us and offered hugs, love, support and words of encouragement.

We were all genuinely happy to see one another and be together planning what races would bring us back together again.

No matter what happens on the roads or in our lives, we know that we have a beautiful, strong, loving running family that is there to share life and running's joys, triumphs and tribulations. We do run together!

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.

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