- How do you stay motivated when the going gets tough?
- How do you train when dealing with both obstacles and inspiration?
These tough, yet perennial questions apply to many of us.
We posed these questions to Mary McManus, polio survivor and baby boomer extraordinaire. A few years ago Mary was in a leg brace. Now she is in 5k and 10k races having “retired” from the Boston Marathon.
To cope with the pain of paralytic polio at the age of 5, physical and sexual abuse from an alcoholic father and multiple surgeries, Mary McManus learned to dissociate and disconnect from her body. She had a stellar academic career and professional career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs until her body, at the age of 53, cried out for healing.
In December 2006, Mary was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease related to the initial polio virus. She went back into a leg brace, used a wheelchair at times and was told she needed to quit her full time award winning career at the VA just 3 years shy of retirement age.
Mary realized it was time to wake up and pay attention to the body she grudgingly carried around with her. She discovered the gift of poetry penning Running the Race in Feb 2007. She had no idea that two years later she would cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.
In May 2007, Mary quit her job and never looked back. Today she is an inspirational speaker, runner, yogini, social media maven, fund raiser and Rotarian who is passionate about creating a polio free world. She is the author of 2 books of inspirational poetry, New World Greetings: Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World and Set Sail for a New World:Healing a Life Through The Gift of Poetry. She donates 20% to the End Polio Now campaign and is the subject of a short film documentary, Keeping the Pace: The Mary McManus Story which chronicles her journey on the road to the Boston Marathon.
- How did Mary go from polio shoes to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon?
- What was the biggest obstacle she had to overcome?
Now that Mary is 57 and feeling healthier and more vibrant than ever, what take home points does she have for others struggling to overcome whatever it takes to live a healthier life?
Listen in and be moved. You’ll agree when you hear her speak, that there is something (special) about Mary!