Four years ago I had no idea what was happening to my body. I had difficulty swallowing, and breathing; I had pain everywhere; tremors, weakness, fatigue and I felt hopeless never dreaming in my wildest imagination that four years later I would be standing with Doug and Lex Welch at Lexs Runhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
being called a winner every time I get out on the roads. Doug told the crowd of over 70 runners assembled how I inspired him during his Boston Marathon run and shared with them my journey to overcome post polio syndrome. Doug's wife also lives with a neuromuscular disease - adult onset of muscular dystrophy and she wanted to give back to MDA who helped her during her first pregnancy when her symptoms flared. She just had her 2nd baby and her goal is to run the Hyannis Half Marathon in February.
I knew that there was going to be something wonderful and magical about this race. Yesterday I took great care with fueling, hydration and that all important mental preparation. Although gun time was not until 10 am, we needed to get up at 6 am and be out to Worcester by 8 am to register. Doug also invited me to set up a table with my books of inspirational poetry
and I wanted to make sure we had time for a pre race massage/stretch being offered by Eric Derrico
. The morning was cool but the sun was peeking its heads through the clouds. There was no traffic; on the ride out I chose the CD's that inspire me. From "Wicked" Defying Gravity and Dancing Through Life; Donny Osmond "This is the Moment" and Kristen Chenowith "As I Am".
We got our numbers, had time for a quick check in with race director Doug and off to the finish line area to set up my picnic table with my books, End Polio Now literature, business cards for New World Greeting Cards
and the photo of Team McManus crossing the finish line. I had a pre race massage/stretch with Eric who worked on my calves and opened my hips with various stretches. My left calf has been cramping; increased hills and mileage so we'll just work it out.
The kids race was first and Doug had trophies for all the wee ones who ran their little hearts out around the track. While waiting for the start of the race I met some wonderful Twitter friends among them Chris Russell who interviewed me for his podcast Run, Run Live right before I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon. Then it was our turn - off we went. At the Charles River Run this year, my heart rate had soared; it was my first road race since my running hiatus last year. Today as my heart rate climbed, my wonderful life and running partner kept spurring me on. He told me to not look at my heart rate - just focus on finding a pace and going for it. And going for it we did. We saw Doug and he told us just go straight up that hill - oh my goodness - up is the operative word. I did need to power walk the hill but I kept up the pace. I did not want to risk an injury but as we got to the end of the hill there was an EMT, a photographer and a volunteer rand so I got back into my running pace. When we got to the water stop we knew we were at the half way point.
Tom told me that for our first mile we did about a 13 minute mile. No way was I gonna let up. I had a little gel (since we had eaten at 6:45 am) and kept myself hydrated with the water bottle I always bring with us. I've learned that my body requires more water than the water stops provide. But I could feel the high heart rate taking its toll and as the very experienced runners on Twitter noted, it was a very challenging course but I finished strong and saw on my watch the time 46:00. I could not believe it! In 2008, my first 5K ever, I did a 51:52; in 2009 same run, Corrib Pub Run, 47:00 minutes; The Charles River Run 5K this year - 48:08 and there you have it - a personal best. But it wasn't about the time, it was a PR because of the way I felt in my body.
There was no fear; I wanted to push myself. I wanted to just open up the throttle and let my body go. I did not focus on who was behind me; or seeing the pack of runners take off and then not see them again until the finish. This was my race and my race to be won. I felt like a winner out on the course. I was among friends. I felt so loved and connected. And the magic between my husband and me out on that course was like nothing we ever experienced before. Having the pre race massage and stretch by Eric got the energy flowing and helped me to feel so connected to my body it was incredible.Tom was amazed at how well I was running; he told me he had never seen me actually run like that. I was balanced and in truth for the first time I felt like a runner. Secretly I was hoping that there was no other woman in the 50-59 age category so that for the first time I could finish a race first. There was one other woman who won the age category and then....
Doug says Mary McManus - come up here - you are a winner and told my story. It was a personal best because I ran for MDA, I ran for Lex and her daughters Isabelle and Charlotte, I ran for me and for all who live with neuromuscular disorders with the hope that one day medical science will find the key that will bring about a cure. For now, I am so grateful for the healing in my life. I am so grateful to Doug and Lex for putting on an incredible event. I am so grateful to Chris, Adam, Matt, Melody and Sandy - so awesome to meet you all IRL (in real life). I am so grateful to Eric for the work we are doing together and how I feel renewed in my health and fitness journey. I am incredibly grateful to my husband Tom for running with me every step of the way these past 32 years and I am so grateful to You God - for the most amazing life one could ever want.
God bless, be well, enjoy every moment and keep on movin'