Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reflections on Boston Marathon 2018 - I LOVE THIS SPORT! - Part II



On Sunday evening, when I saw that the weather forecast called for less than optimal conditions on Monday, I posted this to Facebook:
#bostonmarathon #bostonstrong #werunasone #nationalpoetrymonth #runnerschristmas It's almost go time - On a personal note I want to thank EVERYONE for stopping by Booth #758 at the Expo this weekend. Thank you for your support of my journey and for Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, INC.. There are too many to tag .. my heart is overflowing with love and gratitude.
In honor of tomorrow's Boston, and since April is National Poetry Month, given the weather forecast, I have composed a poem to get you through:

Twas the eve before the marathon
the forecast was bleak
the clothing and race plan
the runners would tweak.
Nerves they were frazzled
but we’re Boston Strong
their Spirit and causes they run for
will carry them along.
Carbo load and remember
we all run as one
can’t wait to see all the photos and bling
once the 26.2 miles are done.
Be brave have courage
run with all your heart
Team McManus will be cheering for you
tracking you right from the start.
May angels surround you
may the wind be at your back
trust all your training there is no lack.
The 2018 Marathon is now almost here
runners gather from around the world
from afar and from near
take it mile by mile
don’t worry don’t fret
make Boston Marathon 2018 your best day yet.


On Monday morning, we debated back and forth about whether or not to watch the race live. Our friends told us at the Expo to stay safe and warm and they all knew we'd be cheering for them. After all, energy is non-local and we could certainly cheer them on by tracking them and sending out positive energy.

I got very emotional watching the mobility impaired start remembering our early start in 2009.

I was blessed to know Ernst Van Dyk as our Team Captain for Spaulding Rehab. He told us at our pre-race pasta dinner that a life does not end with a disability...it's just a new beginning. I heard him speak at an event during the 2013 pre-marathon weekend festivities:


We cheered him on hoping he'd win that ever elusive #11 win in Boston. It was not meant to be. The weather conditions took a toll and he couldn't feel his hands and fingers at the end of the race. He came in a most respectable 2nd!

The text alerts that our friends were at the start started coming in and we sent God speed and prayers to all of our running friends toeing the starting line and checking in on Facebook.

Tatyana McFadden had a stunning race!


From teamusa.org:
The victory gave McFadden a record-setting 22nd victory in the world major marathon series. She won Boston four years in a row from 2013 to 2016, but while battling blood clots during a difficult 2017 racing season, she finished last year’s Boston Marathon in fourth place, 10 days after being released from the hospital.


Seeing Shalene Flanagan peel off to go to the bathroom stunned everyone including Katherine Switzer who was doing the commentary for WBZ. We would later find out that Desiree Linden waited with her!


Katherine pointed out that given the pace with the weather conditions Shalane could easily make up the time.

The lead pack stayed together with Mamitu Daska being far out in the lead.

At mile 22 Desi made her move. I was at the finish line in 2011 waiting for Tom and was part of the crowd screaming and I mean screaming for Desi who came in 2nd place by two seconds that year. As we watched Desi take the lead, Katherine Switzer commented that she had to remain focused knowing how she once lost the race on Boylston St. The whole running community was cheering for her and people began lining the Marathon course from Brookline to the finish line after they saw what happened despite the miserable weather.

Desi broke the tape:


and the drought of 33 years for an American woman to win the Boston Marathon.

In the post-race interview we learned that she wasn't feeling well and told Shalane that if she needed anything she'd support her to the finish. She didn't believe that she was going to even finish! Desi had what was described as understated grit. This sport is all about grit and heart and hanging in there because you never know when a day could turn around. Running is a magnificent metaphor for life.

Five unknown women finished 2nd through 6th place! It was a day full of surprises!

We weren't paying much attention to the men's race once Galen Rupp had dropped behind. Another humble hero, Yuki Kawauchi from Japan went on to surge to the finish!


We turned our focus to our friends who were out there toughing it out in the worst race conditions in 30 years.

We were able to cheer on many of our friends as we got the "Finish" text alert and congratulated each and every one of them on Facebook.

Team Big Heart finished big and strong.

One of my favorite stories of the day was for Team Big Heart finisher Jennifer Sprague:
I just want to take a moment & reflect on everything that unfolded yesterday. (Warning: very long post)

Let me start off by making you aware, if you weren't already, I've wanted to run the Boston Marathon since I was 13 years old. When I was diagnosed with MS I was advised running isn't going to be a big part of my life anymore and that I should "take it easy".

The Boston Marathon has always been a dream of mine. That dream came true yesterday. I DID IT. I ran the 122nd Boston Marathon. Still seems a little unreal. It went by so quickly but I did what I set out to do, and that was to remember every stride. I remember the tearfull start to the sobbing like a baby finish. I remember seeing the spectators who made me feel like the only reason they were out there was to let me know "I've got this", "I'm doing great", and that I was "almost there" (even at mile 3). I remember that right on Hereford, left on Boylston... I knew I wanted to remember that so I stopped & took a picture of the crowd.

I could not have done this without many people. This wouldn't be possible without the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. Thank you for allowing me to live my dream in the name of Joseph (I had many conversations with him yesterday)

This also wouldn't have been possible without my husband. He put up with me going out for hour long runs, taking care of Robbie (who swore that every girl he saw running was "momma"). He was/is my rock during this journey and the look on his face once I crossed the finish line yesterday really let me know how deeply he loves me and proud he is of me (plus saying that I'm such a bad ass for busting out 26.2 miles in those conditions).

Finally, they're are no words to Express how grateful I am for my mother Carroll Burns. She has been there for me through anything & everything. Not only with my journey to the Boston Marathon but through my journey in life. Thank you for sharing tears with me at the finish line.

— feeling blessed.


We didn't know that the timing mats were taken up given the elements and worried when we couldn't track Jane Marshall or Annette Emerson. We heard from several friends who opted to not finish (DNF = do nothing foolish) and provided words of comfort and support. We were hoping and praying that no one would end up in the hospital. We watched the news feed of our friends who were volunteering in the medical tents.

From Boston Magazine:
A total of 2,785 runners received medical attention during the 122nd Boston Marathon, according to updated statistics released by the Boston Athletic Association. Ten of the 91 athletes transported to the hospital on Patriots Day were still there as of Tuesday at 9 a.m. Despite the brutal weather conditions and busy day for the marathon’s 1,700 medical volunteers, 95.5 percent of the 27,042 athletes who started the race finished it, according to the BAA.


One of the many many highlights of the day was seeing Amby Burfoot's interview shortly after he crossed the finish line. I was blessed to meet him several years ago at the Runners World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon weekend. Whenever we meet each other, it's as though we are old friends as only happens when you are part of the sport of running. He wrote a wonderful recap of the day in his blog post, "Flood, Sweat and Tears."

We finally turned off the TV at about 4:30 in the afternoon.

Tony Rich completed his 16th Boston Marathon:


The next morning I saw this post from my friend Jane Marshall:
So long post, but just want to remember what I can from yesterday! I still cannot believe I took part in the Boston Marathon, and although yesterday, it already seems like so long ago.

The day started off rainy and muddy. I slipped and fell into mud almost as soon as I got to the Athlete’s Village, thank god for throw away clothes! I got stuck in mud several times trying to get to the potty and out from the tents to get to pavement to change into my running sneakers and dump my muddy throw aways. Off to the start line it was and it was pretty exciting! My friend and I split at mile 11 as she felt she could no longer push to go and urged me to go. I felt terrible moving ahead and argued in my head and knew deep down she would want me to, and I needed to do for me. I was way passed the 6 hours for the pacer at this time and I wanted to catch up to others as the mile markers and aid stations were being closed down. I came upon Kim and Trish, and we went from mile 12-17 together. At that point I felt the need to start pushing ahead and we parted ways. For a long time I was alone, a boy came running down a hill in Newton giving me a bottle of water. A woman named Mary came off her steps in Allston asking for a selfie and told me that seeing me out there inspired her to push through a tough life like me were still out there going in weather conditions like this, she called me her angel as we hugged. Then I just kept plowing ahead stumbling upon more people like me and we kept on giving each other encouragement. A girl was walking with her dad and he said to her, see you are not alone, and we high-fived. I kept pushing and soon took the corner to get onto Boylston Street! Cleaning crews were all over the place, but I stayed on that blue line to Ben g me to the finish. As I can close, a group of friends were standing in the pouring rain cheering my name. I literally got so choked up I had to use my inhaler to breathe! I am not sure what we more emotional them there or finally crossing the finish mine. I waited with my friends to cheer my other friend as she texted and told me when I was at mile 21 that she was not a quitter and was at mile 19. That father and daughter team crossed and he came over and hugged me and thanked me for motivating his daughter and she and I hugged too. Kubryn came across and it was amazing for the celebration with our friends and her family. Then as we were gathering to, Trish yelled hello and I got to hug my new friend, and she thanked me for motivating them when I parted ways with them after mile 17. Now she wants me to join the Lowell Running Club!

This 47 body year old body took me through 26.2 miles of rain, sleet, cold, and head winds. I may not have crossed the finish line traditionally, but I did it regardless! I wanted it so badly in my heart! I did not really train as I put focus on other areas of my life, but learned so much and and have a new mindset and goals. Your body is an amazing thing, but the mind and heart are even more powerful!

Life is amazing and you have to take chances to never have regrets! After all the stories I have heard of people going to medical and eve withdrawing, I realize how strong I was! Today I feel amazing, no pains aside from a few tight muscles. I am even thinking again! I am inspired and although it was not the race I hope for, it was beyond a blessing and it inspired me for other areas of my life! Life is a journey and I am ready for the next!

Thank you for everyone encouraging me, cheering me, donating to my charity, Wediko Children’s Services in the fight against Childhood Mental Illness! I have to date raised almost $7300! Thank you to life for granting me health and strength and opportunity, I will not let you down!

I am now a Boston Marathoner! 💙💛👟



I went to Annette Emerson's page. Follow this link to her finisher's video with her Guide Kristina Rynes Petitjean and someone they met along the way.



It was called the Bitch of Boston, Flood, Sweat and Tears, the Monsoon Marathon, Run for the Shelter (a play on the 1976 Run for the Hoses) the Mudfest Marathon and EPIC!

It was definitely a Boston Marathon unlike any other.

I'll close with this post from Calvin C. Yu a new running friend from Hong Kong:

#BostonMarathon #謙卑自省的體驗

[Cold Rain, Freezing Wind, Low Temperature, Steep Course.]

Running a marathon can be really tough!

The experience of participating in Boston Marathon in 2018-04-16 can be described using the following example:
Install an air-conditioner in washroom and set it to maximum cool, add a number of big fans and turn on them, and wash ice water shower for 6 consecutive hours. (+ body temperature feels like 0 degree celcius + getting all wet inside out)

This is my 10th marathon in 18 months. It is like a test which gather the worst scenarios faced by a runner: Cold Rain, Freezing Wind, Low Temperature, Steep Course.

When I felt tired, I recalled what I learnt from training on how to save energy.
When I felt weak, I remembered my coach saying "Be persistent and the finish line is waiting for you!"
When I felt freezing, I thought about burning sun, fierce fire, boiling hotpot!
When I felt frustrated, I told myself it would soon be 1km, it would soon be 5km, it would soon be finished!

Being able to finish the marathon doesn't make me feel I am strong. On the contrary, it reminds me of my weakness. I get new learning and inspiration in training, equipment and preparation!

Running a marathon is always a humbling experience.

#BostonMarathon #AHumblingExperience


The 2018 Boston Marathon is in the books. What a privilege and blessing to have so many friends visit me at the Expo at Blue Diamond Athletic Displays booth and to make new running friends this weekend. It was the first year that Tom and I watched the marathon on TV and it was thrilling to watch this sport that I have been a part of for almost 10 years.

I'm inspired by what I witnessed this weekend and the courage and strength of those who finished and those who knew when to say enough; it just wasn't their day.

I LOVE THIS SPORT which is indeed a metaphor for life. As Bill Rodgers once said to me, "Life is hard. That's why we run." In life and in running we can't choose the weather or circumstances, we can only weather the circumstances by being our best selves.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours,
Mary

Proud to be a part of Friends of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc.

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Reflections on Boston Marathon Weekend 2018 - I LOVE THIS SPORT! Part I



...and I'd add watch a marathon in the worst conditions in 30 years on Boston Marathon Monday 2018.

There were a few Marathon weekend firsts for Team McManus. It was the first time we spent 3 days working at the Expo with Blue Diamond Athletic Displays. What a glorious time we had meeting and inspiring runners and helping them with their selection of a medal display. It was also the first time we watched the coverage of the marathon on TV rather than be spectators along Beacon Street. The weather conditions were harsh and we knew that we could send our energy to the runners from the safety and warmth of our own home.

I was so blessed that Ken and Nell invited us to lend a hand as members of their Sales Team (although their products sell themselves) and to share my inspirational journey on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond. Photo credit: Nell Posmer


Tom dropped me off at the Seaport Hotel Cafe where signs directed the runners and the excitement in the air was electric:


I arrived before the Expo opened on Friday. I was about to text Nell when a lovely woman at the Information Booth asked if she could help me. She gave me my badge and a map. Proudly wearing my Exhibitor Badge I found my way to Booth #758 while vendors quickly put the finishing touches on their Booth displays. It was my first behind the scenes look at the Boston Marathon Expo before it opened to the public. What a thrill and how wonderful to see Nell again as she put the finishing touches on their display:


Booth #758 was the hub of activity for runner reunions, hanging out with elite runners and the forging of new friendships.

A longtime Blue Diamond Athletic Displays customer, Pam, posted this on Facebook, ""The tradition continues.....I always visit Ken & Nell! Come visit Blue Diamond Athletic Displays at the Expo!"


Running and especially the Boston Marathon brings runners together from around the world. Calvin is from Hong Kong and we inspired each other with our running journeys! He was inspired to purchase a copy of my book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance.' He told me that he would write a review in Chinese and English to share my journey with others. He started running 3 years ago and is a remarkable marathoner with grit and determination.


Running greats Amby Burfoot, Deena Kastor, Jacqueline Hansen (who wrote the Foreword for Going the Distance), Sarah Mae Berman and Jack Fultz stopped by Booth #758. Deena and Amby signed a medal display that Meb, Ryan and Sarah Hall, Frank Shorter, Dick Beardsley and Kara Goucher had signed before them. We pulled in Caitlin Doherty, President of L Street Running Club to be in the photo with Amby:


This year I was blessed to connect with The Joseph Middlemiss Foundation. Everyone I met through the Foundation embodies Joseph Middlemiss' legacy of kindness, love and joy for life. They had a team of 15 runners running Boston this year and every one of them made it to the finish line running with all their heart.

I met Laurie Miamis at the Book Launch of "Dream Big". She came by and purchased a medal display:


Another member of Team Big Heart, Jennifer Sprague stopped by and treated herself to a Boston Strong medal display:


We found each other on Facebook and as I always like to say, nothing makes friends faster than being a part of the running community!

Several other members of Team Big Heart stopped by who I had known from Facebook and had donated to their fund raising pages.

Amidst familiar faces, we met and greeted runners who were intrigued and fascinated with the medal displays that Ken and Nell create. One runner in particular said to Tom on Saturday as he held a medal display to draw attention to our booth, "Now I'd really be impressed if you told me you make those." "We do," Tom said and introduced him to Ken and Nell. He is going to order his display on line since Blue Diamond Athletic Displays ships around the world to 50 states and 6 of the 7 continents!

Throughout the weekend friends came by to visit!

Tony Rich who is a coach and longtime Blue Diamond customer stopped by to say hello and asked us how our running was going! Here he is in the Boston Marathon program ad for Blue Diamond:


"Thank you for being a fan," Maureen Jones from Rochester Minnesota came by with her brother Matt who was going for the podium in his age group. We met after the 2014 Boston Marathon and you can read the incredible start to our friendship by following this link


Trish Trout wasn't running Boston this year but ran the 5K. We became friends after the Bermuda Half Marathon in 2016. She embraced my journey and wrote a review of Going the Distance on Amazon. It's such a warm and wonderful feeling to welcome friends back to Boston with open arms and open heart:


Jane Marshall, former Mrs. Massachusetts and I met when we were both interviewed on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women show. We hadn't seen each other in years but stayed in touch on Facebook. I am humbled by how she told me I inspired to take on the Boston Marathon and run for Wideko Childrens Services who help children struggling with mental health issues. When she saw that I was going to be at the Expo, she made a concerted effort to see me. What a joyful and emotional reunion we shared:


Annette Emerson and I met during One Boston Day in 2015. What a thrill to see her again along with her guide, Kristina Rynes Petitjean. Annette and Kristina found each other shortly after the tragic events of 4/15/13 and helped each other through those confusing and dark hours. Out of darkness emerges light, love and friendships to last a lifetime.



On Saturday evening after two incredibly energizing yet exhausting days at the Expo, Ken, Nell, and Neil took Tom and me out for dinner. We tried to get a table at a restaurant in the Seaport area where this year's Expo was being held (I must admit we did miss the traditional location of the Hynes Convention Center) but everything was noisy and there were long waits. We opted to head out to Brookline and enjoyed a leisurely dinner at one of our favorite places, Golden Temple. They thoroughly enjoyed it and even had leftovers to take back to their hotel.

Tom and I had a leisurely Sunday morning although we were both anxious to get back to the Expo to support Blue Diamond on their last day at the Expo. It was the Anniversary of 4/15/13. Tom and I wore our Boston Strong colors:


We kicked off Sunday morning at the Expo by visiting the Dream Big booth that was staffed with Nancy Wendland Feehrer, who co-authored Dream Big and the Team Captain for Team Big Heart running in the Boston Marathon, Andrea Ketcham Walsh:


along with "Flat Dave" - Dave McGillivray who stands still longer than the real life Dave McGillivray:


They didn't know the back story to my journey and there were hugs and goosebumps all around!

At 2:49pm the Expo hall was hushed for a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives and were injured on 4/15/13. Tom Grilk read a powerful and poignant message about remembering the events of the day while honoring the remarkable resilience and strength of our City and its people. Tears flowed and the crowd broke into applause.

Running is the only sport I know of where elite runners and champions in the sport love to share the love of the support with runners of all race distances and all paces. The friendships that are forged with runners who run all paces and all distances are lifetime friendships. It's an international sport with a universal language. There's a runner's code of honor (more on that in Part II) and honoring and respecting everyone's effort out on the roads. We lift each other up when we are down because of challenges on the roads or in our lives; support each other through injuries and celebrate triumphant running comebacks. Running raises money for incredible causes such as the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation, Wideko Childrens Services, The Martin Richard Foundation just to name a few.

I LOVE THIS SPORT and felt so blessed and grateful to be a part of the Boston Marathon 2018 Expo with dear friends and running family.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours,
Mary

Proud to be a part of Friends of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc.

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):













Thursday, April 12, 2018

Celebrating National Poetry Month and the Boston Marathon: Light Always Wins



Sunday marks 5 years since 4/15/13 when at 2:49 people's lives changed forever. Tom and I were at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ballroom overlooking Boylston Street across from where the 2nd bomb exploded. We were blessed to have not been looking out the window cheering on the runners and so very fortunate to safely evacuate down Huntington Avenue. I am so grateful for the staff at the Mandarin who remained calm and guided us to the back entrance of the Prudential Center as I'm sure they rehearsed many times during safety drills. We were celebrating our 2009 Boston Marathon run with our Spaulding Rehab Race for Rehab teammates waiting for the runners to fill the ballroom and be regaled as we had been celebrated on April 20, 2009.

Yesterday I was heading to Copley Square for a chiropractic appointment.

I paused in Cleveland Circle to take these photos:


I flashed back to the anticipation I felt the Thursday before our Boston Marathon run as I obsessed over every detail including when do the roads close and would we make our bus from Spaulding to Hopkinton?!

I got on the T and when I arrived in Copley Square I was once again in awe of how the City is transformed for Boston Marathon Weekend.

I took these photos:


and paused for a moment.

I was overcome with emotion remembering our 2009 Boston Marathon run and 4/15/13.

The policeman you see in one of the photos came up to me and asked me if I was okay. I forgot I wasn't wearing my sunglasses as the tears flowed curious at first about why he asked me if I was okay.

I told him I was; that it was emotional to be back here. We had a conversation filled with love as we talked about my 2009 Boston Marathon run and the events of 4/15/13. He and his partner were on duty. They were right in between the two blasts and didn't know which way to go to help but followed their instincts to get as many people into wheelchairs and ambulances as they could as quickly as possible. He said that the volunteers in the medical tent did not get enough credit for how quickly they got the "sea of green" wheelchairs out onto Boylston Street.

We each placed one hand on each other's arm and said almost at the same time, "God bless."

I went on my way in the sunshine as the flags at Old South Church waved in the breeze as if to say, "Boston Stronger 5 years later." I felt blessed.

I wrote this poem 4 years ago as we prepared to commemorate the 1st anniversary of 4/15/13:
Light Always Wins

In their flower beds
awakened by the warm Spring sun
they shiver
unexpected wind chill
mid-April in Boston
we shiver to remember
one year ago
what a difference a year makes
turn over from Winter to Spring
slow
is it always this slow
or a gentle reminder
we are still healing.

Mother Nature has her own rhythm
trust in the Divine
taking time
remember
roots extend deep into earth
we were shaken
we rise

eager to shed our coats
vibrant colors of the soul
radiant
reflecting resilience
invincibility
light always wins.


It does you know ... light always wins!


To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours,
Mary

Proud to be a part of Friends of Blue Diamond Athletic Displays, Inc. Be sure to visit us at Booth 758 during Boston Marathon Weekend.

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life


Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:


And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):