Monday, June 30, 2014

#mondaymotivation Wilma Rudolph



"Do you know who Wilma Rudolph is?" my personal trainer asked me as I struggled through an early run training for the 2009 Boston Marathon.

"No," I said. "I never heard of her."

"Well google her when you get home. I want you to read her story," she told me in no uncertain terms.

From Wikipedia,

"Wilma Glodean Rudolph (June 23, 1940 – November 12, 1994) was an American athlete and an Olympic champion. Rudolph was considered the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s and competed in two Olympic Games, in 1956 and in 1960.

In the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games. A track and field champion, she elevated women's track to a major presence in the United States. As a member of the black community, she is also regarded as a civil rights and women's rights pioneer. Along with other 1960 Olympic athletes such as Cassius Clay, who later became Muhammad Ali, Rudolph became an international star due to the first international television coverage of the Olympics that year.

The powerful sprinter emerged from the 1960 Rome Olympics as "The Tornado, the fastest woman on earth".


Why did my trainer refer me to Wilma Rudolph for inspiration? Because when she was four years old she contracted paralytic polio. Her mother was told she would never walk again. Then she was told she would never walk without a leg brace. With the fierceness of a mother's love and surrounded by a loving, supportive family, Wilma Rudolph came out of her leg brace. She was on the high school basketball team and ran track as something to do in the off season.

While I did not have the love and support of my mother during my recovery from paralytic polio and had the added challenge of family violence from the age of 8 until the age of 17, I had my Spirit and I had earth angels who would support me throughout my life.

Miss Holly, my physical therapist, offered me the tender love and support that a mother would offer to her own child.

I had a french teacher, Miss Dupres, who nourished me in junior high and high school. After graduating high school, and following my father's suicide on 8/1/1971, she invited me into Manhattan to meet her for lunch before I began my freshman year at Boston University. She gave me a sewing kit. She told me that no matter what life may rend apart, I would always be able to put it back together again.

After being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, Allison Lamarre-Poole came into my life. She helped me to believe that I could and would get stronger. She had enough faith for both of us until I could believe that I could heal and was not destined for a future in a wheelchair.

Then I met Janine whose first words to me after asking her if she thought I could get a little stronger were a Henry Ford quote, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."

She could have walked away from me when I told her I wanted to run the 2009 Boston Marathon shortly after coming out of my leg brace and never having run a day in my life. But, like Wilma Rudolph's mother, she believed that I could move beyond the late effects of paralytic polio and achieve the dream that was in my heart.



It took a village to help me cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and it takes a village to support me getting back on the roads.

"No matter what accomplishments you make somebody always helps you." Wilma Rudolph

I feel blessed and grateful for the people now in my life who help me to stem the tide of a progressive neuromuscular disease and to be able to live a full, vibrant life. And thank you to Wilma Rudolph for being my inspiration as I began my running journey on the road to the Boston Marathon and beyond.





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.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Run to Overcome"


"The inspiring story of an American champion's long-distance quest to achieve a big dream." by Meb Keflezighi with Dick Patrick

My dear friend Alexandra Williams of Fun and Fit sent me a surprise package in the mail in November, 2011 with a note, "I thought you might enjoy a signed copy." She met Meb at a Fitness Convention and shared with him my Boston Marathon journey.



I started reading Run to Overcome in 2011, but since at the time I believed I would not be able to return to running, could not bring myself to read it.

It would have been just the medicine I needed at the time, but everything in Divine Timing.

After Meb won the 2014 Boston Marathon - "The whole damn town's in tears!" "Talk about redemption!"



I knew that it was time to read his story!

The fabric of Meb's life is woven together with faith, family, strength, courage and determination.

"Life is bright, it just seems difficult at times," he writes after a series of challenges in his personal and professional life.

Meb's critics had written him off several times over in his running career. Before this year's Boston Marathon, he wasn't even mentioned as a possible contender. Too old. A history of too many injuries.

But as I was doing research for today's post I learned that Meb, who had to sit out the 2013 Boston Marathon because of a calf injury, had left the grandstands as a spectator on 4/15/13 just 5 minutes before the first bomb exploded. After the 2nd explosion, he was hurried into the Copley Plaza Hotel. He vowed to come back and run this year. For 365 days he said in an interview, that's all he thought about ... coming back to win Boston as the first American to win since Greg Meyer in 1983.

When Greg Meyer spoke at our L Street Running Club pre marathon meeting, he corrected the person who introduced him. "Don't say I was the last American to win Boston. Say I was the most recent."

Meb knew what it would mean to Boston for an American to win the 2014 Boston Marathon. And not just any American but one who is the embodiment of what it means to be resilient and prevail against incredible odds. An American who gives back to his native country, Eritrea and here in the U.S. with his foundation MEB which stands for Maintaining Excellent Balance. He testified before Congress to support the launch of the National Physical Activity Plan.

He donated $10,000 of his Boston Marathon purse to the Martin Richard Foundation.

As we stood on Beacon Street just shy of mile 23, Tom took this video as we waited with eager anticipation to see who the lead male runner was:



After reading Run to Overcome, this moment fills my heart with awe and wonder as he writes in his book published in 2010 after winning the New York City Marathon:

"So what's next? I would love to keep running competitively for another three years and make the teams for the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 world track and field championships. I know I can run faster in the marathon, half marathon, and 10K. If these things don't happen, though, so be it. I'll still be content with my productive and consistent career.

I must admit that I feel a couple of voids. I'd love to win the Boston Marathon..."


Meb ends his book with
"As I often say, whoever has the better day will win the marathon. No runner is victorious every time. You will not always win in life either. Nothing is guaranteed, no matter how hard you've worked. Injuries are part of running; disappointments and setbacks are part of everyday life. But if you keep doing the right things, eventually the results will go your way.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. (1 Corinthians 9:verses 26-27)

Winning in life doesn't happen when you overcome just one thing - do or die. It's persevering knowing that difficulties are bumps in the road, not the end of the world. It's continuing to do the right things, knowing your time will come. After all, you have to conduct yourself like a champion before you can ever win a championship.

Whatever you do, then, give it your best. Persevere in overcoming obstacles. When you do, you'll be running to win."


Thank you Meb for the gift of your story. Thank you for blessing the city of Boston with your 2014 Boston Marathon win and for reminding all of us that we run with endurance the race that is set before us.



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.





Saturday, June 28, 2014

Go Forward and Dance Through Life

A few years ago, a Facebook friend sent me a dog tag from the Christopher Reeve Foundation that had the Superman insignia on one side and a Go Forward on the other side. I wore it around my neck at the 2010 Tufts 10K.

One of my favorite Christopher Reeve quotes is:
"We can either watch life from the sidelines, or actively participate. Either we let self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy prevent us from realizing our potential, or embrace the fact that when we turn our attention away from ourselves, our potential is limitless."


Yesterday as I was walking up the front stairs to my house I experienced a moment of appreciation that took my breath away.

"I'm not in a wheelchair," I thought to myself.

Many who live with the late effects of paralytic polio are in a wheelchair. When I first presented to the Spaulding Rehab International Rehab Center for Polio, I was advised to adapt my Cape house and prepare for a future in a wheelchair. I'd spent time in a wheelchair when I traveled or had to walk long distances. I used a scooter to do grocery shopping or we used Pea Pod delivery service.

Not only am I not in a wheelchair, I was able to regroup and get back on my healing path after experiencing another relapse of symptoms after the trauma of my nephew's suicide.

Today I ran 6.1 miles for the third week in a row as I train for the Tufts 10K for Women. I took 4 minutes off of last week's time. I am nowhere near the 13:43 minute/mile pace when I ran Tufts in 2009 but I am also 5 years older. My goal is cross the finish line with a smile feeling healthy and happy in my body. Having said that, I want to train and be the best I can possibly be on race day.

The race isn't until October but after a two year running hiatus, I have a lot of work to do to get myself in the best possible shape for the race.

I can't look back at the detours or kick myself for not keeping up with my running.



I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed with all that I have. Every day is a joy and a gift. Every day has its challenges but I have learned to accept them and work with them. I am healing, slowly, from the inside out and to quote Emile Coue, "Every day in every way I'm getting better and better."

I vowed that even if I did need to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, I would find a way to make it the best possible life I could. My theme song during my rehab was Dancing Through Life:



After paralytic polio followed by 9 years of unrelenting violence, two suicides in the family and living through the events of 4/15/13, it is wonderful to go forward and feel the joy of being able to dance through life.


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.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Training for the Tufts 10K




I am over the moon excited that I have worked my way back to the 10K distance. 6.1 miles. I do love going the distance.

It's been four years since I last ran Tufts. Tufts was my first 10K ever in the fall of 2008. In 2009, I was recovering from my Boston Marathon run. I was working with a wonderful physical therapist at the time who told me that if I had any hopes of getting back to running, I had to take a hiatus and allow my body time to recover and heal. We didn't know if I would be able to run again.

As I stood at the finish line of the 2009 Tufts 10K waiting for my daughter to cross the finish line, I heard the announcer say, "And don't let anybody ever tell you you can't do something. All these women crossing the finish line today started strong and are finishing stronger."

That's all it took to light the fire within me to do everything I could to get back on the roads. I began running in the Spring of 2010 and worked my way back to a 10K distance. I still had my base from marathon training.

Here I am before running the 2010 Tufts 10K wearing a Superman dog tag from the Christopher Reeve Foundation that says, "Go Forward."



In March of 2011, my nephew's suicide pulled the rug right out from under me. I experienced a relapse of symptoms and took a detour on my healing path. It took the events of 4/15/13 to awaken me to what was truly important in my life for well being of mind, body and Spirit.

It's been a year of healing, of building strength, of building endurance. Now I am in full on training mode but the beauty is my only goal is to cross that finish line with a smile. I am blessed that I will have my daughter by my side. Me being me, I will work on my speed in my weekly and occasional biweekly 3.1 runs but as I have been saying of late, I am running from the inside out.

The journey of transformation is never easy. It requires hard work. Trust. Patience. Faith.



When we are able to heal and let go of what weighs us down; when we are able to remember our strength and our beauty regardless of what happened to us during the journey; when we are able to find the courage to accept the darkness and abide in the pain, then we are able to fly free once more.

The Chrysalis May 2014

Trembling with excitement
shaking it off
allow yourself to be with a capital B

Being who you were always meant to be
unencumbered

yet time well spent
on tiny legs
grounded to earth’s energy
garnering wisdom along the way

gathering together
possibility

a time of uncertainty
certain
this is the path
abide in darkness
surrender

lose grip on grasping
turning inward
discovering beauty
strength
free now
to
fly


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.


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.








Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday Wisdom: On Running the Marathon of My Life - Patience, Pacing and Peristence

Whether in running or in life, I find there are two greatest challenges. One is sticking to the training plan and the other is coming back after a setback. We go along on our path building speed and endurance on the roads and in our lives and then something happens. A layoff, a loss, an illness or for me managing the late effects of paralytic polio and trauma, that causes us to pause, to regroup, to reevaluate and to figure out how to move forward again.



In 2011, after my 26 year old nephew's suicide, I was not sure how I was going to move forward. I took a detour from my healing path. I stopped running and I withdrew from the running community. I found myself among people who would draw me back into the dance of family dynamics and who fueled my struggles as a polio and trauma survivor. Every situation serves a purpose and I am so grateful for the soul lessons I learned while I was on my detour.

After 4/15/13, I had an awakening and realized what was important in my life. The #onerun on 5/25/13 brought me back into the present and in realizing how important running and the running community is in my life.

From my memoir, "Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility":

“Oh look they are doing a #onerun tomorrow,” Tom said.

“I am terrified to be a part of that,” I answered.

“Then we have to register,” Tom said.

Tonight I realize there is another layer to all of this healing: the Boston Marathon bombings. It still causes the hair on the back of my neck to write those words. Tomorrow morning, Tom and I are going to walk the last mile of the Boston Marathon and to walk the part of Boylston Street that I’ve been afraid to return to....

5/25/13

The moving pre-race ceremony began including 30 seconds of silence for those who lost their lives in the bombings. There was music and inspirational speeches and not a dry eye in the crowd as the church choir from where 8-year-old Martin Richard who was killed in the blast, made his first communion, sang the National Anthem. Tom and I had our arms around each other. Everyone was in a spiritual embrace.

And then we were off crossing the one mile to go marker in Kenmore Square where four years ago, Tom, our daughter Ruth Anne and I ran toward the finish line. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon for those who couldn't and for those who were told they shouldn't run or would never be able to run again. Back then I was delivering a message of healing, hope and possibility. Today I was one with the survivors knowing they have a long road ahead for them but knowing that they, like me, would be able to go the distance.

We got to Hereford Street and I took a deep breath, as I knew we were going back to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and passing The Forum where the second bomb exploded. As we passed in front of the Mandarin, we stopped for a brief moment to give our thanks to the staff who ensured our safety. The two doormen who had been there on Marathon Monday while we watched the race before going upstairs to join the Spaulding Rehab party were there. How healing and wonderful to see them, express our gratitude and be back on a part of Boylston Street I was afraid to visit.

I told Tom I was ready to sprint to the finish line. I said a prayer as we ran by The Forum. I sobbed as the crowds were cheering and we were surrounded by runners with their bib numbers from Marathon Monday and thousands of people who had been touched by the tragic events of April 15. At the finish line we shared stories with one another. We hugged. We cried. We healed...

Despite the cold and the rain, the love and energy of the community kept us warm. The event organizers did an amazing job at honoring the victims of the bombing and the survivors – “You are out there to run for those who can’t.”

That’s why I ran the marathon in ’09 – and here I was running the last mile with a deep connection to the survivors of the bombing knowing in every fiber of my being what it’s like to work to regain mobility and to recover from trauma where you face death. There were so many emotions as we listened to the pre-race ceremony speakers and then as we reclaimed Boylston Street as our own.


It's been a slow, long road back but patience, pacing and persistence pave the way.

I started out with a walk/run at a half mile. Little by little I built back up to a 5K distance.

Training for and running The Feaster Five was a wonderful opportunity for me to come back into the running fold and rediscover the joy of running.

I reconnected with my friends from the Merrimack Valley Striders and made new friends when we went to Andover for a pre Feaster Five training run.

I'm so excited that tonight we are going to a Striders meeting where the theme is connecting with friends old and new.

I used my 5K distance to begin to build speed and then began to build distance. I held steady at 5 miles until after I ran a series of 5K races. Two weeks ago, I crossed the threshold to 6.1 miles. I can go the distance for the Tufts 10K.

I challenge myself on my 5K distance runs with tempo runs and fartleks but I am also patient with myself. I am running from the inside out paying attention to how I feel in my body. I know that no two runs are the same and there are so many factors that can contribute to how much I am able to do on any given day as is true for every runner.

I've learned that I can and do recover; chronic fatigue is no longer an issue for me but I do need to give myself time to rest and recover. I create an optimal healing environment for myself. I plan out my activities. On a day that I feel well and energized, I am so tempted to do more than what is scheduled. And then, more often than not, I end up not feeling well for a few days.

In addition to two runs a week, I go to Aquatics Therapy classes at Spaulding Rehab twice a week. One class is for upper and lower body strength training. I am up to 5 pound ankle weights. The other class is to build aquatics strength and work on core and cardio conditioning. Once a week I go for massage therapy at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork where my therapist and I work together to continue to heal mind, body and Spirit.

I'm definitely planning on going the distance. I am working on finding my distance and my pace. I know my distance for now is a 10K. I am grateful for every step I take on this journey on the roads and in my life. I know how blessed I am! And every day, I practice patience, pacing and persistence so I can go the distance and journey well.






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.







Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#transformationtuesday I'm a Runner




"I learned that the only requirement to be part of this wonderful group was to run. I didn't have to be fast. I didn't have to be great. I just had to run. And that's when running became not just something that I do but something that is a part of who I am." - John "The Penguin" Bingham

From my memoir: Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility available on Amazon

And then I felt a stirring in my second chakra (only then I didn’t know it was my second chakra – I thought it might have been something I ate). I went over to my laptop in the corner of the living room and I wrote this poem:

Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone
and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.

Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,
curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes
the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse
with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else
and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-
trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team
and they were on my side.

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.

The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.


And so began my journey of healing and transformation as a survivor of paralytic polio and severe trauma as I imagined winning a 10K race!

From my book release party at Marathon Sports Brookline going from outpatient rehab, to taking the leap to leave my award winning career as a VA social worker to being fitted with my first pair of running shoes - ever - at the age of 53:



Sharing what it was like to run Heartbreak Hill for the first time, our Boston Marathon run, leaving running and the running community after my nephew's suicide in 2011 and finding my way home to my life, my health, the running community and the Truth that as physically challenging as it is for me to run, I am a runner!



I donate 50% of royalty payments of the sale of my memoir, "Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" to the One Fund.


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Joy From The Other Side of the Line - Volunteering at the BAA 10K Kids Races - Part II

I've only been back on the roads since 4/15/13 after a two year running hiatus due to a relapse of post polio symptoms. It takes awhile to build back strength, endurance and speed and to learn what I need to do as an older runner living with a spinal cord injury and the after effects of severe trauma.

My first race volunteer experience was at the BAA Half with L Street in 2010. We stood in the Franklin Park Zoo directing runners to the trail that would take them ever closer to the finish line. It was an unseasonably hot day in October. We let runners know they were almost to the finish. I encouraged them to take in the majesty of the animals and to allow the sights and the sounds of the Zoo to carry them to finish strong.

After 4/15/13, I instinctively knew that I needed to be fully involved in the running community again. Being a spectator is awesome but I've never been one to sit on the sidelines.

I became #supportcrew for Boston Marathon training long runs and volunteer opportunities seemed to just come to me. I had a wonderful time doing the packet stuffing for the Boston Marathon with the sweet reward of being able to take the field at Fenway the Sunday before the Marathon for a Boston Marathon tribute. I did a water stop at the Run to Remember and bib pick up at Runners World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon and Festival.

When I received the email from the BAA asking if I would volunteer for the BAA 10K, I knew it was an invitation for more than just another volunteer experience. When I received the email asking if I would change my volunteer assignment to the Kids Races, I had a feeling it was important for me to say yes.

Kids and parents flocked to the registration table. We had parents complete waivers, explained what would be happening and shared our enthusiasm for what they were about to experience. Some were back for a 2nd year; most were first timers. There was a mix of pre race anxiety and eager anticipation to participate in this event. In the distance, we heard the National Anthem and saw the waves of runners cross the starting line. I'm usually there to cheer on my husband and daughter but this year, there was a joy of a different kind.

When a mom came up with a little girl in a sling and shared that she had been so excited about running but broke her collarbone, we checked with the race director to make sure it would be safe for her to walk. The race director's mom, Colleen, said to her that next year she'd be back better than ever and would even know the course so she'd be able to run it really fast.

The moment that the little girl with her walker, out of breath yet filled with joy and determination came down to the finish line, my breath caught and Colleen and I were both overwhelmed with emotion. I shared with Colleen that I am a survivor of paralytic polio. "Oh so you know," she said. She suggested that perhaps there should be a special event for children with mobility impairment. I gently suggested that it is so important to have an event like this that is geared to kids of all levels and all abilities. I shared with her how wonderful it was for me to experience the 2009 Boston Marathon as a mobility impaired runner and how grateful I am to Dave McGillivray for creating an atmosphere of inclusion. I recommended The Last Pick.

Tom and Ruth Anne found me after they crossed their finish line. They saw the kids with their bibs and medals and shared in the joy of those who had finished their races.

It was time to head over to the finish line for the older kids' event.

The only time I have been in the finish line chute was as a runner. We showed our volunteer credentials and a finish line volunteer moved the barricades to let us through the chute.

How amazing to stand just a little beyond the finisher's mat and cheer on those who were finishing up their 10K with grit and determination. One woman with a pair of Canadian Crutches crossed with her Guide. Colleen mentioned to me that she always wanted to a guide for a visually impaired runner but didn't know how to get connected to the Guide community. I referred her to Team With a Vision and the Mass. Association for the Blind. She was delighted that she could give back in this way. I told her the story of Randy Pierce and The Mighty Quinn.

As the kids sprinted down Boylston Street to experience the thrill of crossing the finish line of a BAA event, I felt joy and gladness overflow in my heart. To be able to hand them their medals and congratulate them is a moment that shall forever remain imprinted in my heart.

I hope they will feel the same way about that moment!

There is a thrill to feel the energy at the starting line of a race and a sense of exhilaration and accomplishment crossing that finish line as a runner. But there's another way to feel a runner's high and that is through the joy from the other side of the line.





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.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bring the Kids - Volunteering at the BAA 10K Kids Races - Sometimes it's better to give than to receive


I wasn't planning to volunteer at the BAA 10K but then I received an email asking if I would volunteer. I signed up to help with Wave Starts and Finisher's Medal.

I received another email saying they had too many volunteers for the wave start and finisher's medal area but needed volunteers for the Kids Races. Would anyone be interested in changing their assignment?

I sent back an email saying I would.

The voice of Tom Grilk once again filled the air in and around Boston Common.

The time is 7:40 and we are getting ready to run another race here in Boston. It's a gorgeous day out there. There are 8,000 of you getting ready to run this second leg of the BAA Distance Medley... There are 8,000 of you out there. 8,000 Strong doing what we do best as a city. We run. We run Boston Strong.

While it was not nearly as emotional as being at the start of last year's BAA 10K, I felt a little catch in my throat as Tom spoke those words.

Tom and Ruth Anne were at the start while I prepared for registration for the Kids Races.

Tom took this photo of the field from the start:


And of his finisher's medal which reminds us that Boston Runs as One as we continue to heal from the events of 4/15/13:


While Tom and Ruth Anne were out on the course, I was busy registering almost 200 kids for the Kids Races.

From the BAA website:
The B.A.A. 10k Kids Races give young and aspiring runners the chance to experience the fun and excitement of the B.A.A. 10k in shorter races designed with them in mind! Children will be grouped by age and have the opportunity to race without the pressure of competition.

DATE: Sunday, June 22
TIME: Races for kids begin at 9:00 a.m.
LOCATION: Boston Common (ball field), adjacent to Charles Street
COST: Free!

KIDS FUN RUN RACES: At 9:00 a.m., kids between four and 11 years old may compete in races on Boston Common. The race distances will depend on the age of the participants, with four- and five-year-olds competing in the shortest distance, and ten- and 11-year-olds competing in the longest distance (approximately 400 meters) on Charles Street. No pre-registration is necessary. Sign up your child on race morning. All participants will receive a bib number and participation award.

There is no entry fee for this event.
Events will not be timed and results will not be recorded.
Arrive prior to the event to register near the ball fields next to the start and finish area.
Parents, guardians and/or grown-ups should accompany kids and will be able to sign-up for the races beginning at 8:00 a.m. on race morning.

EVENT FORMAT

Sprint racing and an obstacle course from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., followed by "distance" races from 9:40 to 10:00 a.m. Kids will have the opportunity to run the stations multiple times. At 10:00 a.m., the ten- and 11-year-olds will be escorted to Charles Street for the street race. There will be a separate boys and girls street race.


REGISTRATION

On-site registration for the Kids Races begins at 8:00 a.m. adjacent to the baseball field. There is no fee for kids, and they may begin racing at any time starting after 9:00 a.m.


I worked with the mother of the Kids Race organizer who told me about the history of the Kids Race. Four years ago, her daughter, Tarryn Prosper who is a consultant with the BAA and media relations for the Boston Marathon was asked about organizing a Kids Race. Twenty five kids in total participated. The second year, the number increased and then last year, there were almost 300 kids who participated.

After we completed registration, we moved inside the ball field to distribute finisher's medals to the kids age 9 and under as each finished their sprints around the field.

A six year old girl had fractured her collarbone and was planning to run. Before the race her mom asked if she could walk and of course Tarryn said yes. I was delighted to present her with her medal.

And then a moment that brought Tarryn's mother and me to tears. A girl using a walker used every ounce of strength, determination and effort to cross the finish line on the field. She may have had cerebral palsy or a similar neuromuscular challenge. She was out of breath but thoroughly delighted with herself for meeting the challenge of her race. Everyone cheered and surrounded her as though she had finished first. I noticed the way her parents made sure she was okay but also supported her strength and independence.

The kids enjoyed hoola hoops, an obstacle course and the energy of children and families gathered together on a gorgeous summer's day in Boston. Kids took such pride that they had a medal like mom or dad who had finished their race.

It was time for the oldest kids' heat. Last year there were only 12 kids who participated. This year we had 36 kids registered to race from the corner of Boylston Street and Charles Street to the finish line of the BAA 10K. I was delighted to distribute finishers medals, lending my heart and voice to cheering on the kids as they ran full on down the chute. It was an added blessing to cheer on the back of the pack finishers from the 10K as they crossed the finish line.

The race announcer let the BAA 10K runners know that they needed to stay to the right because the 9-11 year olds would be participating in their own race. The organizers had a finisher's tape for the winners to break.

The girls were the first to race. Tom captured this moment of the parents eager to see their kids come down the chute:



And here we are giving finisher's medals to everyone:


Almost 200 children had the opportunity to experience the joys of running in a race today. Each one proudly wore their bib and a finisher's medal. For those who had a parent who raced today, they can now have a special shared experience. Seeds are being planted for the future; to reap the harvest of a next generation who embrace the joy of running together in community.

So for all you parents out there - make time to bring the kids along when you go out on a run and bring them to kids races.

Find the time and the opportunity to volunteer to nourish our next generation in healthy pursuits because sometimes it is truly better to give than to receive.




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.












Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Tincture of Time

When I worked at the VA, one of the nurse's that I worked with would often prescribe a tincture of time rather than rush in to prescribe medication. She was a fierce advocate of the healing power of time.



It's been a year since the 2013 BAA 10K, the first event after the tragic events of 4/15/13.

I remember how I felt on Saturday of last year. I told Tom and Ruth Anne (my husband and daughter) that there was no way I could be a spectator at the race even though they were running in it. Anxiety overwhelmed me as I thought about standing at the start/finish line. The memory of the terror was raw in every fiber of my body and being. You can read about last year's BAA 10K in my blog post, The BAA 10K - I Almost Didn't Go - Run Boston Strong.

I received an email from the BAA saying they needed volunteers for the BAA 10K this year. Without hesitation I said yes. I will be volunteering with the kids races.

What a difference a year makes.

Jeff Baumann
is back to work at Costco.



Several of the Boston Marathon survivors crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon and were recently honored at the Challenged Athletes Foundation gala.

The Norden Brothers have released their book, Twice as Strong and walked the entire Boston Marathon course on the anniversary of 4/15/13.

And there are many stories of weddings, couples expecting a child and life moving forward.

Today I did a 6.1 mile river run with trails, stairs, on grass and on asphalt as my training in earnest begins for the Tufts 10K for Women in October.

The day was one of those perfect 10 days in Boston. Sunny. Dry. Moderate temperatures.

Team McManus is back on the roads. We laughed as we remembered our 2009 Boston Marathon training river runs and had a few classic Team McManus training run moments.

I can't believe it's been a year since I felt that knot in my stomach and trembled with fear in anticipation of the 2013 BAA 10K.

It's amazing how much healing happens given a tincture of time.


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.



Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday "Fare"




I used to feel that life was really unfair. Paralytic polio followed by 9 years of assault at the hands of family members. My father's suicide weeks before I was getting ready to go to Boston University. Bankruptcy. Having to sell all of my possessions...the list goes on and on... Living with the late effects of paralytic polio and trauma and at the age of 53 being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

And then I began to look at all the ways and times I was being watched over, guided, and redirected; the amazing people who came into my life at just the right moment to keep me from going over the edge. I began to practice an attitude of gratitude finding the miraculous moments that were the very fabric of my life. Here's one of a million examples:

I didn't have enough money for my last semester of graduate school at Boston College. I didn't know what we were going to do. We had a little black and white TV that we would put on the counter at our apartment at 75 Gardner Street in Brighton, Massachusetts to watch the evening news while we got dinner.

Paula Lyons, consumer reporter came on and told us about a new loan program, MEFA. I went to the financial aid office the next day and voila, had enough money to finish my M.S.W.

In spite of all that happened to me and for me, I was spared so much. There were times when others came to the rescue and times when I would rescue myself from situations that were no longer in my best interest.

Every situation serves a purpose.

Recently, I've learned how to transform what is into something wonderful.

I cannot run in races with a fast field. Nope - not happening. I'm not going to put my body, mind or Spirit under that kind of stress anymore. But what I will do is either be a spectator and cheer on my family and members of my running community family or volunteer.

While I can take on any volunteer assignment, I've learned that I need to let people know what works best for me.

People are so understanding mirroring the compassion I feel for myself.

When the call went out from my running club, L Street, for volunteers for the Jim Kane Sugar Bowl, I answered the call letting the race director know that I needed to have a chair wherever I volunteered. The Club President emailed me and said she had the perfect job for me. A two hour shift for early bib number and t shirt pick up.

I will run in races that I know will be enjoyable. Racing in and of itself is a challenge for me and this year I'm taking on the challenge of training for the Tufts Health 10K for Women.

Because I had to leave my job at the VA for health reasons, Tom will need to delay his retirement. We are so blessed that he has a wonderful job with good benefits and fortunately he is not ready to retire yet.

But rather than feel like we have to wait until he retires to spend time during the week together, I am going to meet him for lunch on Wednesdays before my Aquatics Therapy class at Spaulding. I can spend time at the Waterfront after lunch and before class begins and then we commute home together.

When life seems unfair, rather than sit and whine, it is an opportunity for us to discover how well we can fare. We can always turn things around to create a fulfilling, purposeful, and vibrant life.


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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

#tbt The Marathon Sports 5 Miler: Success - It's What You Do With What You've Got



After my first road race, The Corrib Road Race 5K, we signed up for the Marathon Sports 5 Miler in July of 2008. It was hot. It was an evening race. I had just begun my running career.

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.


Fast forward to today. I am not going to run the Marathon Sports 5 Miler but will experience the joy of watching Tom cross the finish line. We will celebrate this summer classic with our Marathon Sports family.

One might easily ask: It's six years later, wouldn't you have improved in your strength and endurance to be able to run this race again?

Not yet....not this year...maybe not ever or maybe someday ...



"Rarely does the path to recovery follow a straight line
Like a tidal stream, it bends and twists
It surges and trickles
It ebbs and flows.
That is why rehabilitative care must be fluid too.
Spaulding takes an approach to patient care that is flexible, highly personal and informed by a deep understanding that while every patient strives to reach higher ground, no two rehabilitative journeys are ever alike."

I am at a place of peaceful acceptance in living with a spinal cord injury: the late effects of paralytic polio and the injuries that resulted from 9 years of violence, but by no means does my condition define or limit me to a life on the sidelines.

After 7+ years on this amazing journey, I realize that regular strength training on land does not work for me. I tried several times over with different trainers and different approaches and I ended up injured and no stronger than when I began.

Fortunately, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network built a new facility in Charlestown complete with an Aquatics Therapy Center. I am able to build strength.



In addition to twice a week Aquatics Therapy classes, one with 5 pound ankle weights and one that focuses on core and cardiovascular conditioning, I run twice a week. In my 3.1 mile runs, I work on speed with fartleks and/or a tempo run. I'm running from the inside out listening to how and when to push myself. I'm training for the Tufts 10K. My second weekly run is to build endurance.

I go for weekly massage therapy sessions at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork that incorporates Zero Balancing into the work. The sessions are a wonderful catalyst for healing trauma and the late effects of paralytic polio. The challenges remain but my attitude has shifted.

When once I felt really frustrated by needing to sit on the sidelines and feeling left out or left behind, I can now smile and feel the joy of supporting Tom in his running career. He supports me in my running career, helping me to train and running races with me at my pace. I choose races that are for all ages and all abilities that I know I will enjoy.

I had always experienced success in my intellectual and professional pursuits. It's awesome to experience success in my running career and on this awesome healing odyssey best defined by Woody Hayes:



Running the Race - February 2007
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone
and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse

"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,
curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes
the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse
with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else
and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-
trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team
and they were on my side.

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.

The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.




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.







Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Connecting the Dots Mission Possible: The Talking Information Center



...Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference."-Steve Jobs

"As it turns out, the only job we have available right now is with VIST. The mental health walk in coordinator job just got filled," the assistant chief of social work Jim Blair told me after my interview at the VA Outpatient Clinic in November 1988.

"But I have no experience working with people who are visually impaired," I replied.

"We'll train you," Jim said.

My favorite job in my social worker career was as the Visual Impairment Services Team Coordinator at the VA. I could use my marketing/public relations background with my masters degree in social work. My veterans taught me and I supported them in their adjustment to vision loss. We took field trips together and they opened my eyes to what it means to live life with strength and courage coping with the loss of the gift of sight.

Part of my job in helping veterans cope with vision loss was to make referrals to community resources that would support them to feel as independent and empowered as they could.

The Talking Information Center's mission is to broadcast information to inspire, empower and motivate the print impaired community. It was a way for my veterans to have access to newspapers, periodicals, consumer information and a wide range of programming through a radio that only required an on/off and volume button.

Fast forward to May 5, 2014 when through a friend of a friend's Facebook feed I discover that a visually impaired runner qualifies for Boston!

Randy Pierce
went on to be a guest on The Talking Information Center's Mission Possible Show. Randy's work supports the New Hampshire Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I tweeted about his interview.

TIC reached out to me and asked if I would like to be a guest on Mission Possible.

On Monday, I took a tour of the agency that had made a tremendous difference in the lives of so many of my veterans. Sarah and John shared with me that a listener survey indicated that one of their favorite programs was the reading of the supermarket circulars each week so they could express their preferences to their significant others of what they would like to buy on sale each week. It's the little things in life that can make such a difference between feeling victimized by life's circumstances and feeling empowered to manage whatever life may set before us.

Sarah had done her research and posed questions that would allow me to share my journey and my message of healing, hope and possibility with ease.

She had covered the 2014 Boston Marathon for TIC and met members of Team With a Vision of Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She mentioned on air and off how inspiring it is to watch runners cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I could see that a spark was lit within her. She knew that if I had the courage and fortitude to run the Boston Marathon, so could she.

Coincidentally, I worked closely with the Mass Association for the Blind when I worked at the VA only it was called Vision Foundation at the time. One of my dear sweet veterans was a volunteer there for many, many years.

I am now connected with visually impaired athletes on Facebook and in real life.

I am thrilled to be going to Randy's Peak Potential Gala on 11/22.

It's beautiful to watch the dots connect as the beautiful tapestry of our lives is revealed.

You can listen to the podcast of my interview on Sound Cloud Mission Possible - Mary McManus.

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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