When Women TRI Harder

This weekend was the first opportunity I had to participate in an event since my injury in March earlier this year. Honestly, I was super excited to test my body. I’ve been in a state of mind that I hope I can continue and I was more than ready – mentally that is. Earlier in the week, Coach Lori pulled me from the Time Trial. The rest of the team did awesome and I had to swallow my pride as they zoomed off past me…. no, you don’t understand… like WAY past me… FAST. I did a slow zone 2 4 mile jog as they huffed and puffed. But she had a point and I understood. Why risk re-injurying myself this close to Longhorn Ironman just to see how fast I can go? I understood but sulked a bit like a whiney baby. I probably would have been upset with my time anyway and it would have brought me down emotionally. And one big thing I’ve learned in triathlon is that 90% of all this training is all in your head. If you think you can do it, you’re right. If you think you can’t do it, you’re right, too.

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Go back another weekend and the team did an open water swim and bike ride out at South Padre Island. I’ve been swimming a lot – probably the most I’ve ever swam (because of my injury) – so I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the water. However, since getting hurt, I haven’t been able to run the way I used to or ride with the groups like before and when your body is used to doing a certain amount of exercise on a regular basis and you suddenly stop… you blow up.  I gained a lot of weight back. And it was evident when I attempted to squeeze into my wetsuit. Wetsuits are supposed to compress your body some… but they aren’t supposed to crush you like a boa constrictor.

I got it zipped up but just like so many Walmart customer memes state: just because you can zip it up doesn’t mean it fits you right!!! I seriously had no business in that wet suit. I swam out about 100 meters and my boobs must have imploded into my lungs. I seriously could not breathe. Not wanting to panic, I flipped up and floated aimlessly staring into the sky until I could bring down my heart rate and try my swim again. After a few minutes, I flipped over again, swam a few 100 and then freaked out when I could breathe and again, floated until I got my heart rate down. This scene repeats itself a few times. Pathetic, I know. The awful part of this is that the water was so beautiful and still! It looked like sparkling glass!! chances to practice in situations like this are so rare… and my weight gain blew it for me! I was pissed, humiliated and out of breath. So I called it in.

Angel, who also ran his first marathon when I ran my first in San Diego, just a year ago had talked about wanting to be part of the triathlon team but didn’t know how to swim, was dangling his legs off the dock. He was staring out into the water in a way that was similar to gang members staring each other down before the big rumble. After a few minutes, he jumped in and did a good 800 meters out there. See, whether you think you can do it or can’t do it, you’re right.

After everyone finished our swim, the team got together on the dock to take our team selfie. After all, if it’s not posted on facebook, it didn’t happen, right?

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I was so upset with myself that I purposely chose a filter that exaggerated my belly bulge and posted it for all the world to see, laugh scrutinize and ridicule me with.  The thing is that the world didn’t say a thing about my belly or my weight gain. I did. If my friends and family actually did notice my weight gain and the tire around my belly, they never made me feel uncomfortable about it. I was the one that made it a big deal to me. This is MY issue. (I’ve lost some weight but that’s for another post later – I know, right? I was actually bigger than this just a few weeks ago!)

So, if any of you women (and men, too) feel like you’re too embarrassed to go out in public in spandex, lycra or wetsuits because you’re too this or too that. Stop it. Suck it up. It’s no big deal. The only one making a big deal about it is probably just you.  We all have our little issues. Let’s empower ourselves to get over them together.

Ok, so next was the bike ride… and boy was it HOT and WINDY!!! Now, I love the bike part of triathlon. I’ve made it very clear that this is my favorite of all three sports but that day… that day was tough. I hadn’t been on my bike on the road consistently. Being on my trainer, in my bedroom office, in the air conditioning with the playlist blasting and fans blowing, not having to worry about drivers who text or drink or drug or and just plain old bad drivers or pot holes or beer bottles or soiled diapers, gravel, sand, rabid loose dogs, etc. has spoiled me. My confidence on my indoor trainer, using Zwift, has helped me tremendously BUT if I cannot transfer that confidence and experience and replace the anxiety and fear I have to losing my life on the road while riding… it’s all useless. My time on the road compared to my time on the trainer is like night and day now. I need to work on that. And I don’t know how other than just getting out there and being thrown to the lions.

I was, again, the last one in.

Hey, it is what it is. I got hurt. I went through therapy. I’m healing as fast as I possibly can. I’m training as much as my body can safely do without reinjury. I’ve gained weight. I’m slow. So I went into the Tri Girls triathlon this weekend without any blinders and accepting of the facts of my situation. At this point, there really wasn’t anything more I could do. So just enjoy the event and do my best, right?

So I did.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Focus. This is NOT your race Myssie. This is just a practice run to see how my body reacts to the workout. Do your best but don't push it.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Focus. This is NOT your race Myssie. This is just a practice run to see how my body reacts to the workout. Do your best but don’t push it.

I had so much fun watching so many women complete their first triathlon.  Yelling out cheers to them as we all crossed paths on the bike course was exhilarating, empowering and a great indication of how far we as a community have come since being labeled "Fattest MSA in the Nation"

I had so much fun watching so many women complete their first triathlon. Yelling out cheers to them as we all crossed paths on the bike course was exhilarating, empowering and a great indication of how far we as a community have come since being labeled “Fattest MSA in the Nation”

My run is my biggest hurdle but this old lady did ok considering I have a bulging disk at L4-L5, a herniated disk at L5-S1, a popped IT band with excessive scar tissue and piriformis syndrome that plagued my hip at mile 2. Begging the volunteers to trade places and joking with everyone else along the way to jump in as my stunt double or relay partner kept my attitude light and everyone laughing.

My run is my biggest hurdle but this old lady did ok considering I have a bulging disk at L4-L5, a herniated disk at L5-S1, a popped IT band with excessive scar tissue and piriformis syndrome that plagued my hip at mile 2. Begging the volunteers to trade places and joking with everyone else along the way to jump in as my stunt double or relay partner kept my attitude light and everyone laughing.

I did this event last year as a relay with my JTI Three Amigos, Alex and Maritza, and we won 1st place.

This year, I was solo. I have to admit, I’ve done almost every triathlon either with both or one of them or they were in attendance cheering me on. It wasn’t the same without them there.

BUT it was also phenomenal to see over a hundred women, mostly aged 30 and older, finish a triathlon!!! Maybe this isn’t a big deal to you – but to this community… IT’S HUGE! BIG! GARGANTUAN!!! This may get me in trouble for stereotyping but just so that the rest of the world understands how we do things down here, it usually goes something like this:

Girl grows up. Minimal education – just enough to get by living paycheck to paycheck. Marries young. Starts family young. Has more children than the national average. Puts children first since divorce rate is also extremely high and women have learned not to depend on husbands or baby daddies. Holds down multiple temporary jobs and sells at least three MLM products in any given year to be able to buy her children what all the other kids have and pay rent. Drives them to school, soccer practice, dance class, football practice, first holy communion classes and studies in the car while waiting for one online college class because that’s all she can afford to do. Her health deteriorates because she doesn’t exercise sitting in her car or stadium seats all this time. Her family meals consist of Little Caesar’s $5 pizza, Mickey Dee’s happy meals, ramen or other highly processed just add water boxed meal.

This is how we live. This is our way of life. This is why we have such high rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Women here put ourselves last in the totem pole of priorities.

And this… plus or minus a few details… is exactly what happened to me.

However, a few years ago, a wave of health and fitness caught me and I am so very grateful for it. My brother died at the age of 38. I may also still have a chance of dying young. But in my heart of hearts, I think I really was well on my way there. It might not be much but I do believe I’ve added three years to my life because of swimming, biking and running. I may not be here tomorrow but had I not done what I did, there’s a really good chance that I could have never made it to today.

It isn’t easy to devote time in this day in age to train for a triathlon or a marathon or a 5k or just one class of zumba or crossfit. And unfortunately, in this historically macho driven community, it’s harder for women who have children to take time for themselves to take care of themselves. This is a luxury that we are thought to believe is too good for us to have. And it’s wrong and needs to stop.

So with that, I applaud all the champions of life this weekend who took their health and fitness matters into their own hands and did something about it. Get up. Get active. Find something that you like to do and go do it. Who cares what you look like or if you’re good at it. Who knows what can become of it. Maybe, if you give yourself the chance, you’re actually really good at whatever you choose to do. Just go out and be. Do you get that? Just BE. Be alive and well and happy for you, your family and everyone that loves you and everyone that hates you. Go out and be. Live life.

Want to see all the photos from the TRI-Girls Sprint Triathlon this weekend? Click here.

That's me with a big old smile on my face after I did the absolute worst triathlon time in my history and I loved it because I didn't give up. That's how I started my day. How was YOUR day?

That’s me with a big old smile on my face after I did the absolute worst triathlon time in my history and I loved it because I didn’t give up. That’s how I started my day. How was YOUR day?

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