A Super-sized McMarathon

I ran my first street block in October of 2011 in the quiet darkness of the Bicentennial trail.  I was 41 years old with no history of athletic skills whatsoever. (However I did do videos of Gilad and Jane Fonda aerobics in the 80’s)

Bicentennial trail at night

I ran my first mile in November of 2011.

I ran my first 5k in December of 2011. It was the Fiesta Marathon’s 5k. I finished in just under 45 minutes. I ran like Phoebe in the TV sitcom Friends.

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I ran my first 10k one month later, January 2012 at the Port Isabel Longest Causeway race.

My first 10k - The Longest Causeway run

I ran my first Half marathon the next month, February 2012 on the Birthday of my baby brother, Donny, who had just passed away less than a year before that.

Tears for Donny

We lost my mother to cancer shortly after in April of 2012. I took all the sadness, anger and every pent up emotion that I had stuffed inside of me and used it to run my first full marathon seven weeks after her death.

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I recuperated for a couple of months after that but realized quickly how healing Team in Training was for me.

I went on to do several more half marathons with TNT: one each month until December of 2012 when I decided to revisit my first race… the Fiesta Marathon. But instead of doing the 5k, I challenged myself to do the full 26.2 miles.

It was too much too soon for me. After the 172 Campaign for Vannie Cook Children’s Cancer Center half (September 2012), the Nike Women’s half in San Francisco (October 2012) and the San Antonio Rock & Roll half (November 2012), I ended up injuring myself seriously in the first 6 miles of the Fiesta Marathon (December 2012).

Not wanting to admit to myself that I was seriously hurt, I went on to do the Herothon half in San Antonio in January 2013.  It was clear to me that something needed to change.

Running with Team in Training allowed me to take my feelings out on the pavement. It gave me permission to vent. It gave me pleasure to know that I was helping someone else who had gone through what I went through. It gave me hope to know that I was running alongside survivors. I DIDN’T WANT TO STOP. If I stopped…. I was scared that my sadness and anger would end up exploding and hurting those I loved.

So I found an alternative. TRIATHLON!!!

I gave my achilles the chance to heal for a few months while I learned to swim and ride a bike. 10 weeks after I learned to swim, I completed my first triathlon.

Stanley's Triathlon

And a couple of months after that… I completed the Capital of Texas Triathlon.

captex finish1

And then became the first in our region to win the LLS Triple Crown by completing a 100-mile century ride in the mountains of Nevada at Viva Bike Vegas.

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Scattered in between all these events are several other QUALITY local races, duathlons and triathlons that I used for experience and training… but when it came down to the marathon in December… my blood boiled.

I wanted so badly to avenge myself for the mistakes I made last year. I wanted so badly to do well.

Sadly, for as much as I wanted it and planned for it and prepared for it… I think God had other plans. The reasons that I wanted to do well in it didn’t match the reasons that I joined Team in Training in the first place. The reasons I wanted to do well were ego based. I’m glad now that I recognized it and chose to do the half instead for all the right reasons.

The Fiesta Marathon of prior years was moved to Edinburg and upped in date. It was replaced by the Inaugural McAllen Marathon on the same weekend in December. It was bitter cold and on a route that I had never run before but I was surrounded by my TNT team mates, Maniacs, RWC girls and Cyclepaths all along the course.

I started out the race with a dear friend that I missed so very much. She lost her mother as well. Stephanie and I have lived mirrored lives for so long. Running in the city of my home alongside an old friend felt unusually natural. Unlike other races where nerves kick in… this one had no nervousness. Just pure excitement. I ran alongside the women who took me under their wings while training for my triathlons. Three fierce women who had just completed a half ironman a short while earlier and they weren’t even breaking a sweat. Karen Watt jokingly blurted out “It can’t be good when you get passed by a Christmas tree!” A runner dressed up as a Christmas tree had just run past us.

As I got warmed up, I began to peel off layers of clothing and wrapped the sleeves of my jacket around my waist. My pace slowed down while I did this when a man running behind me a few paces sped up to tell me that I was his inspiration. Caught by surprise and still a bit uneasy with compliments, I think I blushed and admitted that I didn’t think I’d be anyone’s inspiration that day. I was going to take it easy and enjoy the run. He ended up sticking along with me throughout the entire race. Gotta admit, his unexpected compliment made me feel really good.

I could not believe how many friends were there cheering!!! Sooooooo many Team in Training team mates, soooo many RWC and VRC fellow runners and their families all yelling their lungs out with cowbells and posters and hugs and hand signs!!! Seeing their faces light up when they saw me… it was like the sparkle in my Momma’s eyes through theirs. It invigorated me.

I chose 2:19 as my finish goal. This is the birthday of my baby brother, Donny. I figured that if I run the first three miles at a 9-and-something-minute mile pace, I can easily finish the rest of the race at a comfortable 11-and-something-minute mile pace and enjoy my hometown marathon event. All went well as planned until towards the middle of mile ten, I had just passed my run gurus high five cheer (German Medrazo) at the Valley Running Cheer stop when BOTH my legs cramped up with charlie horses. I was at a complete stop. I seriously could not move any further.

I got so scared that I took a look back to make sure that no one was about to run into me. I was about a half a block away from German and thought maybe I should shout out to him… but then what??? I simply stretched and stretched and stretched my calves out. I can’t honestly say that I stretched them out to the point where I was pain free but that stubborn ego inside of me knew the finish line was just a 5k away and I had already wasted my perfectly paced time on this stretching. I impatiently got up from the curb and hobbled on. I dropped down to a 12-minute pace. I knew at that time I lost my goal but kept on. What else was I gonna do? My car was over there. I couldn’t go home by snapping my fingers.

I hobbled on and hobbled on until a big black truck drove close by me with a Kenyan chasing it. THAT’S THE FIRST MARATHON FINISHER!! How cool is that to cross the finish line WITH A KENYAN!!!

I am stoked! I am beyond stoked! Can you imagine the stories I tell my friends about this???

“Ya… here’s my finisher photo with my crazy fast Kenyan run buddy… We finished at the same time. Well, he finished just a few seconds before me so technically he won the race and got the check.” — Oh man!!! I could milk this like the biggest fish story ever!!!

Nope!

Cramps again. There goes that awesome story. I stop for a while and stretch again because I simply cannot move my right leg at all.

“SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP! The freakin finish line is two itty bitty blocks away!” – my inner voice yells at me… AGAIN.

So, I hobble on. I finished with a smile on my face in the most amazing sunshine ever.

Best of all… I finished for ME. I didn’t half-ass it. I did the absolute best that I could. It might not be as good as YOU are but guess what…. I’m not you. And I am soooooo very happy for that because I don’t think you’ll ever see or feel what I did that day.

What makes my dream any less than your dream? We are all different. We all want different things in life. And I can change MY dreams any time I want and I can even get new dreams. How ’bout them apples?

Health and Happiness… my dream has never changed. The path to it, however, sure has.

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4 Responses to “A Super-sized McMarathon”

  1. Bobby Galligan Says:

    I’m proud of you Myssie and glad that you have used your training as a way to deal with emotions that can be overwhelming at times. After losing my mom to cancer 3 years ago, I too take to the streets with a vision of her sweet face in my mind. It’s like a slow, slightly painful meditation where I can somehow leave my body and blend with all that she has become. My best wishes to you, Javi, and the kids this Christmas.

    Like

  2. What an amazing history! Inspiring!

    Like

  3. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you
    wrote the book in it or something. I think that
    you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit,
    but other than that, this is magnificent blog. An
    excellent read. I will certainly be back.

    Like

  4. Wow, wonderful weblog. And may the good times and treasures of the present become the golden memories of tomorrow. Wish you lots of love, joy and happiness. MERRY CHRISTMAS. !

    Like

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