Thursday, April 28, 2022

It's Time for a Race-cation

 


It seems like only yesterday that I started the On The Road to Providence For Victory Programs to document Ruth Anne and Tom's journey of training and fundraising. It started out as on the road to the Providence Marathon, but after a 15 mile training run left Tom sideways, Team McManus opted for the Half Marathon distance. They received so much support from our village and Victory Programs for their decision. When we talked with Coach Brian Simons, we talked about how the pandemic had taken a toll on everyone mind, body and soul. As we emerge from the pandemic, we all needed to honor what would be best for all Tom and Ruth Anne as runners, and for me as the marathon manager.

Our last race-cation was in February of 2020 at Hyannis Marathon Weekend. As we crowded the ballroom and hallways, greeted each other with hugs and high fives and warmly hugged each other goodbye with "See you in Boston," we had no idea life would come to a screeching halt a few weeks later. The pandemic has been quite the journey. I know how incredibly blessed we have been through it all. Ruth Anne had to take yet another COVID test for work and once again it was negative. We have all been physically healthy throughout the pandemic. There were bumps along the road exacerbated by the pandemic that took a toll on our emotional well-being but gratitude helps us to keep a perspective on how blessed and fortunate we are. 

Tom and Ruth Anne trained through every kind of weather. The forecast looks amazing for Sunday. The question is how many times can I refresh the Weather Channel page set to Providence weather before Sunday. We started packing last week checking off necessities that we could pack ahead of time on our list. This Race-cation has a very different feel from pre-pandemic Race-cations. There is an excitement intensified by the two year hiatus since we had a running vacation. Appreciation and gratitude overflow knowing how precious life is. Our freedom to travel, stay at a hotel and gather with friends at a race weekend is no longer something we come to expect in our lives.

During an interview on Tuesday, chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci shared that the U.S. is “out of the pandemic phase” of COVID-19 as hospitalizations and cases have plummeted.

Fauci made his statement during an interview with PBS’s “NewsHour” when he was asked if the nation was close to the end of the pandemic.

“We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase,” Fauci said.

During an interview with The Washington Post, Fauci clarified that the global pandemic is still going on, but the U.S. is going through a transition period.

“The world is still in a pandemic. There’s no doubt about that. Don’t anybody get any misinterpretation of that. We are still experiencing a pandemic,” Fauci said.

However, he said that the virus is no longer causing the same amount of hospitalizations and deaths that it had when omicron swept the nation over the winter.

Throughout the winter, Fauci said the U.S. was experiencing a “full-blown pandemic phase.” Then, he said when cases started falling, it moved into a “deceleration” phase, and now we are transitioning to the control phase.

“The way we were months ago, where we were having 900,000 cases a day, tens of thousands of hospitalizations, three thousand deaths a day,” Fauci said. “The deaths went from 3,000 down to 300.”

Fauci predicted we would hit a “control” stage of the pandemic by last fall, before the delta and omicron variants emerged, causing a spike in cases. Now he is saying the same, as new variants are not posing a threat.

The doctor said that omicron subvariants have started to spread, they are not impacting hospitalizations or deaths like their variant predecessor.

“Right now, we’re at a low enough level that I believe that we’re transitioning into endemicity. ... We’re not in the full-blown explosive pandemic phase. That does not mean that the pandemic is over,” Fauci said. “A pandemic means widespread infection throughout the world. ... In our country, we’re transitioning into more of a controlled endemicity.”

With cases getting better, the nation has started to adjust to a new way of life as mask mandates, restrictions, and other COVID-19 era policies continue to be lifted.

Even though mandates are becoming a thing of the past, COVID-19 is still present in our communities, and health experts continue to urge Americans to make the best choices for themselves.
 

During a Race-cation, we would plan to take advantage of all of the hotel amenities. We decided to forego use of the swimming pool. Food service at the hotel is still limited so we will be bringing all of our breakfast needs for race day. We will look like we are going away for a week with all of our bags but that was true pre-pandemic.

When we check into the hotel, we will have come full circle from the last week of February in 2020. Once again we are able to look forward to a weekend of anticipation, excitement, bib pick ups, pre-race fueling for runners and support crew, asking people as they pass by, "You running on Sunday?", getting up at the crack of dawn on Sunday, feeling #allthefeels and heading to the start line. We are visualizing Race Weekend from start to finish with exactly how we want it to be. It's easy for gremlin thoughts that are residue from having lived through the pandemic to creep in but I keep coming back to focusing on how we all want the weekend to be and staying focused on only positive experiences.

The hay is in the barn as they say. The fundraising was a phenomenal success raising $7700 for Victory Programs and their ReVision Urban Farm. To learn about the work they do to help with healing, hope, recovery, housing and food security visit Ruth Anne's fundraising page and if you are so moved, make a donation to support her run.

It's two more sleeps until we head to Providence for our first Race-cation in two years. 

From my heart to yours,
In health and wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon

 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

1,099 Days


 

"As marathoners we know about pacing, about hard days, about broken dreams and yet we keep showing up. We hang onto hope.  We can beat this current storm. We will win this race. And the after party will be glorious!" ~Anonymous

And what a glorious after party we had at the 126th running of the 2022 Boston Marathon on 4/18/2022. It had been 1,099 days since the tradition of the Boston Marathon, run on the 3rd Monday in April took place. 

Ever since I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon, the 3rd Monday in April has been a part of our lives. In 2011, Tom ran Boston for Childrens Hospital. In 2013 we returned to the Mandarin and joined our Race for Rehab Team. Unfortunately the day did not end as a typical Marathon Monday but on the third Monday in April in 2014, Boston ran again and Meb won! We have our special spot to spectate on the corner of Dean Road and Beacon Street just before Mile 23. Except for 2018, we watched the race in person tracking and cheering on our friends with signs and #morecowbell.

We knew that the energy would be unlike any we had known with the hiatus of Boston running in April. The weather was spectacular. Tom and Ruth Anne had a shake out training run scheduled as they prepare for their Providence Half Marathon on May 1st. We debated about whether or not to get our seats secured or if they should first do their run. We were wise to postpone their run as Beacon Street spectators were out bright and early.

We had a front row seat to see Daniel Romanchuk in the lead:



We turned to the spectators around us and as if we were of one mind, marveled at how he had such an incredible lead. There was no other racer in sight. There was a six minute difference between 1st and 2nd place in the wheelchair division!






I wasn't able to capture the men's lead pack but did capture Race Director Dave McGillivray on his infamous scooter:

We were hoping to see American women lead the field but Olympian Molly Seidel had to leave the race at mile 15 due to a hip impingement. Nell Rojas once again took top American woman for the 2nd year in a row. She finished 10th overall for the women's race. Desi Linden always receives a roar of cheers from the crowd.

It was a thrilling fight to the finish for the top two women, Peres Jepchirchir and Ababel Yeshaneh, separated by only 4 seconds after Peres Jepchirchir broke the finisher's tape. We could see from our vantage point that it was a tight race:












We had a bit of a breather after the lead runners passed through before the real challenge of the day began; finding our runner friends among the throngs of runners heading to the finish.










 

Ruth Anne was ready with her signs as we tracked our friends on the BAA racing app:



 



 






 

Erin Foley was Ruth Anne's occupational therapist at Spaulding Rehab. She has a gift in helping those who have experienced life-altering injuries or illnesses to help them regain their independence and find their strength. Even after discharge last September, she maintains a relationship with Ruth Anne. They have a very special bond that transcends the patient/OT relationship. We were  Therable to cheer on friends and give shout outs to the Spaulding Race for Rehab Team. Tom followed Erin on the map so we knew when she would be getting close to our spot. Ruth Anne spotted her halfway down the street screaming "Erin! Erin" jumping up and down with her sign. We knew she was struggling as many runners often do by the time they reach mile 23. She was walking but came over to give us high fives and a big smile. She took off running down Beacon Street to the finish. She told us later in an email that seeing us there gave her such a boost of energy. She knew what Ruth Anne has overcome in her marathon of healing and the critical role she played to help Ruth Anne regain her independence and quality of life. When she first worked with Erin in November of 2019, Ruth Anne couldn't stay awake throughout the day, manage her money or meds or perform simple activities. Ruth Anne worked so hard under Erin's guidance and it was a magical moment on Marathon Monday when Ruth Anne gave Erin the boost she needed to get through the last several miles of her lifelong dream to run the Boston Marathon!

We did not see our dear friend and supporter Kathy, but we did see Henry Richard. We didn't realize it was Henry until we saw the Boston Marathon stories on the news but cheered loudly for the MR8 singlet he wore as he ran by. He fist pumped the air and smiled to acknowledge our cheers.

One of the spectators next to us asked if we had seen Adriane Haslet and Shalane Flanagan come by. We weren't aware they were running! We tracked them and somehow missed them (they may have been running in the middle of the pack) but what a moment of redemption for Adriane after she crossed that finish line as expressed in this CBS News Story.

Today is the 13th anniversary of when Team McManus ran the 113th Boston Marathon. 

There are always so many inspiring stories that embody the Spirit of the Marathon. After 1,099 days, the running of the Boston Marathon itself symbolized endurance, resilience, strength, patience, pacing and the ability to keep going the distance despite the challenges and heartbreak that arise. 

From my heart to yours,
In health and wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon



Thursday, April 14, 2022

Standing Tall

 

The diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006 was a wake up call for me. My mind, body and soul were crying out for healing from the effects of childhood trauma and paralytic polio. I discovered the gift of poetry in my soul, took a leap of faith 15 years ago leaving my award winning social work career and went off to heal my life.

Only at the time, I had no idea what that meant.

I went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon, had many adventures as runnergirl1953 (the year I was born) and healed and transformed my life from social worker to runner, motivational speaker, poet and author. 

I wrote Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life and my Trilogy of Transformation not intending to write another book until the Pandemic happened two years ago. Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic was borne out of quarantine and a chaotic time in our history.

Running, meditation and being a a part of Dr. David Hamilton's Personal Development Club along with continuing to write poems and essays helped me to focus on hope, optimism, faith, continued healing and growth.

In last week's Personal Development Club, David gave us a booster shot of exercises to improve self-esteem and self-love. We are all experiencing pandemic weariness and that weariness can take a toll on one's capacity to stand tall as Divine Beings. It was exactly what I needed as we continue to emerge from the pandemic and return to experiencing our place in a world very different than the world we lived in before March of 2020. Harnessing the power of the mind/body connection which is bi-directional, David gave us exercises and a meditation/visualization to boost confidence. He referenced Amy Cuddy's TED Talk about body language and his book I Heart Me available on Amazon.

I've been practicing my meditations/visualizations to embody strength and confidence and release fear and anxiety reminding myself how worthy I am to receive life's blessings. This poem was borne out of that time of visualization/meditation using the phrase that flowed through David during our session, "plant your feet in the soil of self-esteem":

Standing Tall

Feel the vibration of love
quaking in fear no more
tears water the garden of my soul
washing away past
planting feet in soil of self esteem.
Roots deep
firm in faith
though winds may blow
I bend with ease and grace
I know my place as Divine
radiant Being.
Speaking my Truths
live and let live
others may turn a blind eye
no matter
weeding worries of acceptance
bury seeds of judgement resentment
forgiveness.
Worthy to receive
joy in giving
Essence of who I am
essential to feeling free
a shift
from withering wall flower
unwavering
bathing in Truth of my existence
expecting miracles
I blossom and grow. 

As one who experienced severe abuse as a child after contracting paralytic polio, there are times when I need a booster shot of self-love especially during these unprecedented times.

Harnessing the power of the mind/body connection, I re-ignite my fiery Spirit standing tall to share my gifts and my powerful messages; soul lessons learned through my life experiences as a thriver and champion.

From my heart to yours,
In health and wellness,
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Happy National Poetry Month: Where it all began!

 

From "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life" available on Amazon

It was a cold, dark day in February 2007. I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility. I faced a grim and uncertain future as the doctors handed down the decree of the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. They told me that if I had any hope of stabilizing the disease where it was, I would have to quit my full time award-winning career as a VA social worker three years shy of when I was eligible for retirement. It was a no-brainer. I knew I had to take a leap of faith and leave my career. But what’s a social worker to do after almost 25 years? She opens her heart to the cadence of Dr. Seuss that brought her so much comfort during the painful physical therapy sessions as she recovered from paralytic polio. This is the first poem I penned. Bear in mind, I had never run a day in my life.

 

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, 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, alone and afraid tried 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.                                           

 

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.

 

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. Poet

 

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.

 

After writing that poem, I realized I was at a crossroads in my life. I opened my heart to gratitude and forgiveness to heal the childhood trauma and visualized a future very different than the one the doctors predicted for me. Poems flowed out of my heart and soul as though a spigot had been turned on. When I went to the Newburyport Literary Festival in April of 2007 after deciding to pursue my newfound passion as a writer and poet, I shared my story with anyone and everyone who would listen about my journey. The critically acclaimed writer Peter Guralnick took time to give me tips about getting my material published. The literary critic who interviewed Peter at one of the workshops said to me, "You're channeling poetry aren't you? How cool!"

 

It's been an incredibly cool 15 year journey since that first poem flowed out of me. My little business, 'New World Greeting Cards - Original Poetry for Every Occasion' didn't quite take off as I had initially thought it would. I continue to create original poems for milestone birthdays, anniversaries or other celebrations for family and friends. The Universe had plans for me other than becoming a successful business woman. I've become a motivational speaker and share a powerful message of healing, hope and possibilities reminding people, especially women, that they are not their diagnosis. My poetry has touched so many hearts, especially those poems from "Hope is a Garden: Poems and Essays From the 2020 Pandemic."

 

The poetry from Hope is a Garden is now available as an audio book with all proceeds being donated to Voices of Hope Boston who forward the proceeds to the Henri and Belinda Termeer Cancer Center for Targeted Therapies at Mass. General Hospital. Read Out for a Cure is now available for download with a $10 payment to me via Paypal at maryamcmanus@gmail.com or Venmo @Mary-McManus-21.

 

After writing "Running the Race", I discovered the healing power of writing poetry along with the feeling of unbridled joy and exhilaration that accompanies the creative process. After running the 2009 Boston Marathon, and experiencing adventures as a runnergirl, I wrote my Trilogy of Transformation. In March of 2020 when I realized that I was living through another pandemic, I turned once again to my pen, what I call my Divining Rod for healing and the flow of poetry continues as I edit, "Into the Light: Emerging from the 2020 Pandemic."

 

I'll share with you a 'sneak peek' to celebrate National Poetry Month:

 

Can You Feel It?

 

Stepping outside my door

I feel it

anticipation of Spring

transported without plane, train or boat

breathing deeply

an elixir from earth ready to give birth

heart flutters with hope.

Infinite possibilities

emerge from winter's womb

ultimate faith seeing the unseen

confidence of beauty unfolding

doubt yields to faith

barren trees poised to pop

sun's warmth enticing transformation.

Eager to shed

letting go

Spring's renewal

enters soul

eternally grateful

it happens every year.

 

From my heart to yours,
In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

Visit the News and Events tab to listen to my inspiring and uplifting interviews

My books to motivate, uplift and inspire you are available on Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father's Day Reflections

 From the upcoming "Into the Light: Emerging From the 2020 Pandemic":     Father's Day Reflections 2021 ...