On Sunday morning I told Tom during my pre race breakfast, "This isn't business. It's personal." I knew that yesterday's race was a very important part of my healing journey. I'm usually very much out there in social media land and in real life but before the race, I felt that I had a piece of soul work to do and suddenly felt this intense need for privacy. I thought that today's race was something I had to do alone even though of course Tom would be with me stride for stride.
I didn't post on Facebook before we left for the race. I turned inward.
But the horse was already out of the barn and I was stunned when Race Director Alain Ferry greeted me with an extended hug of support and wanted to know about my PR intention for the day. He looked deep into my eyes when we were talking and wanted to know why I chose 47:00 minutes for my PR. He said, "Well I hope when you get back here the clock says 47:00 minutes or better." I had no idea Alain had taken my challenge to his heart.
I decided to check in on Facebook and right before gun time, my friend Jess posted a note of support and encouragement. I turned inward again getting focused on my goal. It touched my heart to feel her love and support. I've seen how Jess gets people through their races with her heart and lending her energy when the tank seems to be empty.
When Alain rode up on his bicycle and said, "Oh there you are," Tom and I both said that we thought he was just coming out to check on the back of the packers and walkers still out on the course.
When he turned around I realized he came out looking for me to cheer me onto the finish.
As the runner's fog cleared from those final minutes of my race, I remember Alain on his bike riding along in front of us cheering me on. "Come on Mary. You can do this," and counting down the time.
In that moment I realized that even though this was a deeply personal moment for me, I am/was and have never been alone on this journey. There was a crowd gathered who were cheering me on. The energy, love and support drew me to the finish line along with my own fierceness to dig deep and reach my goal.
As we were hydrating and enjoying a post race orange with sticky hands...
"Hi Mary. I'm Phil Lipof from WCVB," he said extending his hand in greeting.
I was somewhat taken aback and apologized for not being able to shake his hand...
He smiled and said, "Oh no worries. Alain just told me your story and I am so inspired by you. I would like to share your story right before the awards ceremony if that's okay with you. I'm a reporter so I need to get the story from you."
I told him about my journey with polio and post polio and how I'd stopped running after my nephew's suicide. Alain had told him how the Boston Marathon bombings and the #onerun got me back on the roads so we picked up the story from there.
We snapped this photo:
He told me what he was going to say never telling me that this was going to happen:
He got me. He understood my challenge even though we'd talked for oh maybe 5 minutes. I felt so honored and celebrated but this is not just about me. This is about celebrating what is possible and the ability of us all to not only survive but to thrive as we meet challenges head on. It's about having the courage to start and to start over and over again and putting it all on the line to see what we are made of.
Alain told me that it was a very special moment for him as a race director to look at me and see me begin to cry as I was coming into the finish and then see this look come over my face of sheer determination as I dug deep to meet the challenge of the PR I had set for myself. My husband Tom, Phil, Alain, Bill Rodgers and the people I was blessed to meet yesterday gave me so many special and unexpected moments that will now fuel my journey.
What an incredible surprise to have a post race celebration filled with love and joy so that others could hear my message of healing, hope and possibility.
"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.