I was feeling sadness around leaving my running and the running community for almost two years. Truth be told, I did not have a relapse of post polio symptoms. The modality that was supposed to be helping me heal, KMI Structural Integration, instead was creating confusion in my body.There was a lot of emotional and physical damage done through the work that joyfully I am now able to heal. As a trauma survivor, I had a wonderful way of believing something was good for me when in fact it could not have been more wrong for me. While it's true I live with the late effects of having contracted paralytic polio and the effects of trauma, I was at the top of my running game. There was still much more that needed to heal and strengthen but needing to stop running was not because of the progression of post polio syndrome. I was vulnerable after my nephew's suicide in March of 2011 and they preyed on my vulnerability.
Tom reminded me last night about how I cried after one of the first Aquatics Therapy classes at Spaulding Rehab. "This is where I belong," I said with tears streaming down my face. "I never belonged on a yoga mat in that studio. It was just so wrong for me." The people who I followed were master manipulators and convinced me that running was bad for me. Because I wasn't allowing my body to be as it needed to be, I did not have the energy or the desire to run. I remember the moment I stumbled off of my healing path and bought into something that a private yoga teacher said to me. "Are you working with your bodyworker on this structural imbalance?" "I don't have a bodyworker right now I replied. "Well then you are going to see my teacher. He can help you fix this."
As Joseph Campbell says:
Rather than focus on the detour and my sadness, I want to celebrate my running journey and finding my greatest treasure last Sunday with a PR at the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk for Prostate Cancer as I remembered and reclaimed who I am!
Let's begin with my early training run that was chronicled in The Brookline Tab, "Run Don't Walk" was the title of the article. Don't you just love my running threads? It was shortly after this photo that I went to Marathon Sports and bought the proper running attire to go with my first pair of running shoes ever.
My first race ever - The Corrib Pub Run 5K on 6/1/2008. My pace was a 16:44 minute/mile. It was an accomplishment to have run for 40 continuous minutes at that point in my training.
The Marathon Sports 5 Miler July 2008 and finishing last yet feeling like a champion for not quitting despite the heat and having all the polio demons rear their head:
Tufts 10K October 2008, "Running with God" as I wrote about in an article for Cape Healing Arts Magazine. My daughter and I ran our first 10K race together and finished with a time of 1:26:14. A 13:53 minute/mile pace!
And who could ever forget the Tough Ten Mile Turkey Trot in November of 2008. The entry fee was 10 canned goods/person. The timing method was popsicle sticks. The hills were brutal but Team McManus was filled with joy. Oh yes and did I mention it was fareezing cold that day?
My first Half Marathon in Hyannis. How lucky was I to be inspired and encouraged by Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter.
And then Boston 2009:
I did have to take a time out from running for more physical therapy and treatment of cervical spine disease after the marathon. I could no longer strength train with my personal trainer. But you can't keep a runner down for long and by summer of 2010, I was running again and training for Tufts. I had a friend who had never run a 10K. It was time to give back. We trained together and crossed the finish line of the 2010 Tufts 10K with a time of 1:36:10. We had the best time together and what a joy to help someone cross the finish line of their first 10K.
I was racing a 5K a month and by December of 2010 had my best time ever at the Jingle Bell 5K with a 13:43 minute/mile pace:
My friend and I ran the Hyannis 10K in 2011 and bested our Tufts time finishing with a 14:30 minute/mile pace for a time of 1:30:05. Tom was training for Boston and ran the Half. Here we are with Dick Hoyt.
I ran two more races in 2011 and could feel that I was losing my edge and my joy of running. By September of 2011, I called it quits....
Reunited and it felt so good at the Feaster Five Expo in November of 2013
and out on the course
I trained during that grueling winter through the Polar Vortex and found my strength in Aquatics Therapy.
What a joy to celebrate my race-iversary at the Corrib Pub 5K with Tom and my dear friends the Feeney Sisters
They cheered me onto a strong finish:
I wasn't planning to run any other races until the Tufts 10K, but the Universe had other plans for me with the Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk for Prostate Cancer where I was once again inspired and encouraged by four time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers
and went on to run a 5K PR of 46:53 at a pace of 15:06 since my return to the roads
And a post race celebration that will live forever in my heart
But I don't rest on my laurels. With a 5K PR behind me, tomorrow I begin training for Tufts 10K 2014. The time to beat 1:36:10. I'll have my daughter to pace me and will know that my husband and Tom Licciardello will be waiting for me at the finish. I've begun to imagine the magic of the day knowing that there are going to be many more wonderful memories to add to my runner's scrapbook. And as for that stumble into the abyss, well it happens but I found my gold!
And to those who told me that I had to correct my arches, stand this way, move that way; this is the proper alignment. To those who believe that change comes from the outside in and there is something to fix. To those who told me I was out of balance that my thoracic spine did not have enough movement and on and on it went..... To those who humiliated me, mocked me and used me for their own personal gain in the name of helping me. To all of you - this is my response:
“The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect.” ~George Sheehan
"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.